Waipu¯ fire wake up call
It had been a harsh wake up call, quite literally for us in Waipu¯ in the middle of the night, and a little later when seeing the heart of the township on a bright Sunday morning on the last day of September after a devastating fire.
Notwithstanding the loss of income for the 25 or so employees, business owners and all of their dependants, a critical community facility, the pharmacy and a bank presence, albeit only with an ATM, for cash strapped locals and tourists was also lost.
There is now a gaping hole where three thriving businesses once stood, depleting further what is available on Waipu’s main street.
If there is a positive to come out of such a disaster it may be to kickstart some of the stalled “new” business opportunities which were much vaunted on the faded billboards in the high street.
Those plans that were robbed of vital resources both human and financial by continual inquiries and objections, vested interests and, not least, the development of the township to reflect the growing population.
Already inventive plans are in place to revive and continue some of those businesses in Waipu¯ .
More corporate bodies could take note of this style of enterprise previously seen after the earthquake in Christchurch 2011 and particularly those further abroad in Wellington and the media who patronisingly refer to “The Far North’s” low potential in general.
Waipu¯ was formed on a bedrock of communal needs laid down by pioneers and farmers like so many other settlements around the world.
History is well represented in The Centre by a world-class museum and many photos and murals dedicated to former residents.
At the point of establishment the history of a location begins, but it is a start point and that bedrock should be from where we deal with the here and now and use as a stepping stone forward to the future, after all yesterday is now part of our history.
No body should underestimate the effort to establish our community in years gone by.
It is where many of our future plans and potential mistakes are illustrated and development is rarely in a straight line, but if we are only defined by history, without development, Waipu¯ will become just that, history.
_ Paul Barton