It is a wonderful example of the freedom we enjoy in this great country of ours, that you can jump on a digger and start digging big holes with nary a care for resource consents or pesky permits.

Except of course, you can cause explosive damage to the only fuel supply pipeline between Whangarei's oil refinery and Auckland.

Not to mention a national fuel crisis with international implications.

It's not always useful to ponder "could ofs" and "should ofs" but in the wash-up of the pipeline failure, it's hard not to think of scenarios that could have emerged.


Say the digger operator heard a clunk as the claw struck the pipeline, and hopped down out of the cab to investigate, tossing a cigarette into the ditch in the process.

The resulting crater would probably still be there.

As it was, the digger that scraped the pipe did not puncture the skin all the way through, but caused enough damage to allow corrosion and an eventual tear in the pipe.

Did the digger driver know, I wonder?

Like a child who breaks a shed window, and is too scared to tell his parents, have they felt the burden of the secret this past week?

Experts have hypothesised as to what the digging was in aid of. Unearthing buried treasure (kauri logs) was the front runner.

Refining NZ's chief executive, Sjoerd Post, dismissed this early on as "fake news" but was good enough later on to acknowledge there was no evidence either way, re the digging for kauri.

Post - a relentlessly positive individual - also observed that the pipeline incident, which, remember, caused a fuel crisis, wasn't embarrassing.

He arguably has a higher embarrassment threshold than the average person.

But he also has above average openness and accessibility, compared with many CEOs, who would rather bury their heads and spit sand for a week after than front up continually to media excited about a large hole in the ground.

And he also seems to lack the public arrogance that sometimes comes with persons who head large monopolies, or hold significant positions. In a week when politicians were laying on election promises thick and fast it was refreshing.

The other example of the freedom we enjoy in this country is the ability of news organisations to take photographs in public places.

We took the photo accompanying this article on Monday, a few hours after CEO Post had assured the country on Radio NZ that welders would not commence repairs until the site was well and truly safe.

The photo shows someone smoking a cigarette.

Of course, we asked Refinery NZ if that was safe, given, you know, nearby fuel pipelines and everything.

Turns out it was very safe, the worker was in a designated "smoko" area, well away from the pipeline, having a well deserved break, and there was ongoing testing in terms of levels of anything remotely likely to go "boom" when a cigarette was lit.

Just what we want to hear.

Refining NZ are probably happy for today's general election to distract attention away from what was basically an oversized gardening mishap.

It could be an interesting weekend for Kiwis - no matter what happens the make-up of Parliament will change.

So will our afternoon sunshine hours - it's daylight saving.

And boxer Joseph Parker might silence uneducated observers who wonder how he has done so well without knocking anyone of note out.

And in celebration of the democratic freedom that Aotearoa allows, what better timing than an election weekend, to get out in the garden and dig yourself a hole.