HELEN HOLT
helen.holt@age.co.nz

A power outage halted weekend trading on Saturday morning after a magpie flew into a transformer.

The trip happened just before 9am, and Transpower restored power at 10.45am. However, some residents were still waiting for power at 4pm.

About 7000 homes in South Wairarapa were affected.

A Transpower spokesperson said there was a delay before the power reached the homes.

“It took a wee while to get back on the network. The equipment senses a fault, and until the problem is isolated, you can’t turn the power back on.”

The spokesperson said bird-related power outages were common.

“Birds fly into power lines. We often get bird incidents around nesting season because transformers are quite snuggly.”

The Transpower team reported that the magpie sadly did not survive, but “its legacy would live on”.

They said it was lucky the outage did not happen in bad weather when people needed to heat their homes.

Featherston Dickensian Bookshop owner Dave Adams said the outage had left the town completely dead.

“I had one cash sale all morning. People realised there was no point going shopping in Featherston if they couldn’t trade, so no one was here.”

He said bank transfers were an option but could be complicated if there was no Wi-Fi.

Adams hoped there wouldn’t be an outage on the weekend of the Booktown Festival in June.

“The last two to three times there’s been an outage in Wairarapa, Featherston has been the last town to get the power back. We’re often forgotten here because they usually prioritise Martinborough and Greytown.

“Transpower needs to up their game if the government is pushing to have electric cars.

“With New Zealand being an almost cashless society, when there’s an outage, you can’t trade.

“And if we all have electric cars, you can’t drive.”

The majority of Martinborough businesses stayed shut until the power returned at noon.

Cafe Medici owner Nick Arnold said his shop opened but had a nightmarish day.

“We made plunger coffee by boiling water on the gas stove,” Arnold said.

“The coffee machine was out, and we couldn’t do Eftpos. We’re usually cashless, but on this occasion, we accepted cash and bank transfer because there was no other way of paying.

“It was a nightmare. When you don’t have power, you don’t have anything. We could only operate because we had a gas stove.

“There are huge knock-on effects, especially when it’s busy – which it was. But the staff were great.”

Arnold said Martinborough was bustling yesterday after the lull on Saturday morning.

Greytown businesses did not feel as much of a pinch, with the majority restored before lunchtime.

White Swan Country Hotel staff member Maddie Wiles said the cut did not significantly affect their operations, but the kitchen staff had a slight delay in setting up for lunch. The biggest disruption was to overnight guests who were unable to shower.

French Baker owner Rusty Donworth said they were lucky to have the power back on by 10.30am.

“The biggest thing was we couldn’t make coffee. Everything else was baked ahead of time.

“Customers were very understanding. Luckily, the ones who couldn’t get coffee came back once the power was back on.”

 

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