We knew the snow was coming and that we needed to stock up.

Five items through the checkout the power went out in Taihape New World, ending the automated beeps.

Hubby had already rung my cell to say the snow at home was getting deep.
'Get going or you won't make it.'

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Thank you NW for manually writing down the pared down items on tick so my two young nieces, coming for a holiday break, and I could scarper.

Seven days later, and just 20 minutes towards the Ruahine Rangers from Taihape, we still have patches of snow on the ground and no power. Everything is disconnected.

We are lucky with a 'chippee' fire that has a wetback, stove top gas hobs and diesel heating. Neighbours without have had to come over for showers.

The initial two days while the snow fell and isolated us was quite fun with snowmen and candles ... until day four when the novelty wore off.

I carefully delivered the girls to their other aunty through 40cm of snow. She has a generator providing power: luxury!

Rumour has it: it could still be a week to 10 days before the power is restored.
Popular opinion is that our infrastructure is appalling.

Meanwhile, I have three online courses to complete with the exams opening 5pm Friday, July 21 after being without cell coverage to hotspot to, or power to charge anything for five days ...

Yesterday I managed to phone my online course provider and they put two of my courses back four weeks, leaving just one to catch up with and complete. Thank you Learning Cloud.


Here's the rub: I've had to go to my neighbour's house, (with generator) to charge my laptop until hubby got back with one he bought in town yesterday.

At home I've recently been able to hook my cellphone up to an old 12V car battery that's running our radio.

So now I try to find out how much data I have left using my phone but it's not working: Spark says they've "updated their services". This since yesterday!

I can't find our information: my phone number and password don't match. Phoning for a 'customer services' person, I watch my phone charge disappear as I sit listening to their music use it up and hear recorded messages repeatedly telling me to go online to their website. I only have reception in one spot: not near the battery charger!

I stoke the chippee and shout at the phone. Beep!

Ten minutes later, trying the shouting technique again (beep, beep), phone is now down to 27 per cent charge, I hotspot and go online to their "Chat" where "Amy", represented by a line of text, gives me my available data and I ask "her" to register my displeasure (tapping loudly on the keys).

Where are the people? I think (beep) automation has gone too far.

There has been a lot in the media lately about depression and suicide, especially in rural New Zealand, and I would like to pose the question of how such automation adds to people's sheer frustration, isolation, and dislocation?

Surely this is disconnection we can address?

Please give us some people to talk to and, while you are at it, put the services including phone lines UNDERGROUND.

The chippee, at least, is stoked.

- Gill Duncan, Moawhango Valley Rd, Taihape