Waipu¯ fire wake up call

Whangarei Report - - OPINION -

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


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