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Wet winter: Firewood supplies all dried up

HAYLEY GASTMEIER

[email protected]

Wairarapa’s long, wet winter has proved to be a struggle for many, especially firewood suppliers.

Most have sold out of dry wood, and 2017 has proved to be difficult for business with its relentless rain.

Carey Grant, of Carterton, was one of a number of suppliers to confirm a firewood shortage, saying “I’ve got nothing”.

His business, Grant Contracting on Haringa Rd, sold out of wood in June.

Having been in the firewood business for more than five years, Mr Grant said 2017 “got too wet too soon”.

He said it was impossible to get into the saturated paddocks to get the wood.

“If you can’t get into the paddocks, you can’t cut the wood, you can’t store the wood, and then all of a sudden everyone’s buying all your dry stuff and then you’ve got none.”

He said people started using their log burners unseasonably early due to the hasty onset of cold weather.

“Now everyone’s screaming out for dry firewood and no one’s got any.”

Mauriceville-based Colin Taplin has been selling firewood for about 35 years.

“It’s been a rotten year as far as I’m concerned,” he said, referring to the weather.

The most challenging aspect to 2017 had been gaining access to wood, he said, with paddocks deluged from the persistent downpours.

“Just to do wood full stop is damn near impossible.”

While a wood shortage was always going to be bad in winter, it hits home hardest in Wairarapa.

The region is ranked number one in the country for using wood to heat our homes, with 74.4 per cent of dwellings burning wood as opposed to 34.8 per cent nationally.

Gavin Fair, also known as The Dag Man, said his Norfolk Rd business sold out of wood a few weeks back.

“It’s been an exceptionally wet year.”

His advice to people was “to get prepared” for winter by ordering wood well in advance to ensure it was dry.

Marilyn MacKenzie, of Wholesale Firewood Supplies in Martinborough, said it had been a “very long” and “difficult winter”.

“It’s been such a wet winter. It started very early, in March . . . and the rain keeps coming.”

Mrs MacKenzie said with the quantity of wood the 34-year-old business supplied, it would be impossible to store it all undercover.

The wood is seasoned in log form and stored outside in the open air.

“Then we cut it and throw it directly into the truck so the wood isn’t completely sodden.”

The most popular wood choice for winter, Douglas-Fir, had sold out, but other options were still available from the company.

According to their website, the company was selling 4m3 of split seasoned pine for $430, and 4m3 of gum for $550.

Manuka was selling at $460 for 2m3.

She said it was so busy, its three trucks were making deliveries to Wellington twice a day, on top of their Wairarapa deliveries, and a fourth truck was soon to be introduced to help with the load.

Mrs MacKenzie said the wood waiting list for Wellington customers was stretched out to mid-September.

“It’s just been a crazy year with the weather and all, and trying to stay on top of it.”

Firewood seller Steve Callis, of Te Wharau, said the ship had sailed for firewood this season.

“It’s all too wet now, it’s no good. So until next year, [there’s] none.”

Mr Callis said advertisements for firewood in the local newspapers had ceased, except for “the odd one that says it’s still wet”.

“You’ve got to stock it up flat-out in the summer time, when it’s nice and dry.”

Run out of firewood? Struggling to heat your home? Email [email protected]

 

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