A partnership between Pongaroa and Allied Petroleum is a first for New Zealand, pumping profits back into the community.

On Monday the first sod was turned for the Pongaroa Fuel Stop, which will be a driver for community development, thanks to the unique relationship between the fuel company and the community.

"When we were approached about the fuel stop, our overwhelming view was yes," Paul Peetoom, territory manager for the lower North Island for Allied Petroleum, said.

"Little did the committee realise how much work this would be. But when the numbers were crunched things weren't looking so rosy for the project so the true partnership between Pongaroa and Allied was born. The fact the committee has succeeded in raising funds is an outstanding achievement.

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An artist's impression of the Pongaroa Fuel Stop.
An artist's impression of the Pongaroa Fuel Stop.

"This is the first project of its kind in New Zealand and it's about not running out on your mates. We're pretty excited to see the new fuel stop rise out of this paddock and to be a source of pride for this community."

Built on land donated by Wright Broughton's family, the fuel stop will provide service on the same site where a boarding house stood 100 years ago.

"The boarding house was a stopover for those travelling from Hawke's Bay to Wairarapa and Wellington and when it burnt down, the replacement became my family home in the 1940s," Mr Broughton said.

"After my mother died in 1962, the house was dismantled in 1964 and taken away, so it's wonderful to see the land is going to be useful again for the community."
Fuel stop committee member Mark Wheeler said the project has been a long time in the making, with the idea planted two years ago.

"David Monk had this bright idea and it's a credit to him and others that they stuck to it,"
he said. "And it's also credit to the Pongaroa community who got in behind, along with Allied Petroleum and the Tararua District Council. Without everyone's support we wouldn't have achieved this."

Tararua District deputy mayor Allan Benbow said the turning of the first sod was a big occasion for the area.

"Council is pleased and proud to see this community effort and initiative," he said. "You rolled your sleeves up and it's done."

Mr Benbow said he was pleased his council had stumped up $60,000 for the project.
"But it's your community taking the lead and control to see it through."

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With a cost of approximately $600,000, the Pongaroa Fuel Stop committee has had to find approximately $245,000.

And Mr Benbow said council's contribution was justified considering the tourism push in the area, with beaches and country pubs attractions for many.

With between 100 and 120 people in the Pongaroa township and no fuel outlet, in the past two years fuel has been sold by some residents when motorists turn up in dire straits.

Publican Gowan Green is the group's treasurer and said in true rural hospitality they make sure they are fuelled up.

Mr Monk, chairman of the fuel stop committee, said it was appropriate that 100 years on from the days of a boarding house on the site, a fuel stop which will serve travellers will be built on the site.

"It's a social asset," he said. "To the children here today, in 20 years' time when you are filling up consider what this community would be without the fuel stop."

The fuel stop will have two pumps with petrol and diesel available, an eftpos machine and lights for use at night. The committee is in charge of the below-ground work, while Allied Petroleum will do the above ground work, including the installation of the pumps and tanks.

"Come on, let's get this thing built," Mr Peetoom said."

The fuel stop is expected to be finished late July, with an official opening in August. Pongaroa resident Jason Ellmers said the fuel stop was desperately needed and the community was grateful to the committee which had "gone the extra mile".