National | Environment

Landlocked Ruatahuna residents remain in high spirits

Ruatahuna residents remain isolated from the outside world, with slips at both ends of the road preventing access in or out of the township. Civil Defence and MPs met with residents today, and although it is not yet clear when the roads will be re-opened, locals say they remain in high spirits.

There's no way in or out of Ruatahuna, but the isolation isn't bringing the locals down.

Resident Max Temara says "towards Murupara there's major slips there, towards Lake Waikaremoana there's major slips there so we're sort of landlocked right now.

"I can say everyone is pretty positive where we're at at the moment, we don't need to be evacuated or anything like that we're quite comfortable."

Temara says the town was in the same situation back in 2004 and despite the latest land-lock the community morale remains high.

"What's made it easier for us now the power is still on the telephones are still working and the fibre optic is working as well.
"We're not too concerned.  We're happy to queue in behind everybody else. We can see the effort they're doing for Edgecumbe and we're talking with Civil Defence every other hour."

Ten marae in the area have opened their doors and cupboards to anyone in need. Residents plan to exhaust internal supplies before tapping into external provisions.

Resident Honey Tuhua says "we think it's going to take at least a month before we can even have a road back to get out because of the damage."

Temara says today crews were assessing the roads and schools were expected to be open. Although not issued with a notice, the town is boiling water as a safety measure.

UPDATE: Civil Defence says road access has improved in some areas in and around Ruatahuna;

  • Gow Road near Edgecumbe is now open
  • Papuera to Ruatahuna Road now open
  • Waikaremoana Road (Whakatane side) open
  • Matahi Valley Road open with caution up to Lions Hut and closed beyond Lions Hut.
  • The road has been opened up between Minginui and Murupara