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Fuel flows in Pongaroa

Doug Wilson with his hose Jed pulling in to the Pongaroa Fuel Stop. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

 

EMILY NORMAN

A horse-drawn cart, and a 1930 Model A Ford were among the first modes of transport to roll on through the forecourt of Pongaroa’s new petrol station on the weekend.

More than 100 people turned out to the opening. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
More than 100 people turned out to the opening. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

More than 100 people had turned up to the official opening of the Pongaroa Fuel Stop on Saturday, celebrating the day with music and free lunch and coffee.

It had been a long wait for the district – the previous petrol station had closed down in 2015, forcing residents to travel almost an hour to Pahiatua or Dannevirke to fuel up.

But thanks to community spirit, a whole lot of fundraising, and a partnership with Allied Petroleum, they were able to bring fuel back to town.

An emotional Mark Wheeler, member of the Pongaroa Fuel Stop committee said Saturday’s result was the end of “two and a bit years’ of hard work”.

“So, putting it mildly, this is very exciting,” he said.

“It’s been a long journey with a lot of pitfalls and holdups, but we’re here now and it’s not going away.

“For a little community that a lot of people think is sitting in the middle of nowhere, this is a hell of an achievement.”

Kids watched on eagerly as the opening ceremony was underway. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
Kids watched on eagerly as the opening ceremony was underway. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

After a week of non-stop rain in the area, Mr Wheeler said it was a relief to have the sun shine down on the opening ceremony.

He said the site had been so wet over the past week that the fence had been put together in a “desperate rush” the day prior by a couple of local fencing contractors in time for the opening.

“We were sinking up to our ankles in places but it’s done, it looks good, it’s brilliant.”

Committee chairman David Monk said the project had been “anything but smooth sailing”

“But this makes it all worthwhile.

“Today we celebrate the future-proofing of our community.”

Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis said the Pongaroa community would continue to thrive with the addition of a fuel stop, and suggested people come to the town with a half tank “so you can always fuel up”, and give back.

Carne Berry was the first to fuel up at the new fuel stop. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
Carne Berry was the first to fuel up at the new fuel stop. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

After a blessing, speeches, and ribbon cutting, a prize was drawn to decide who would be the first in Pongaroa to fuel up at the new station.

This was won by longstanding residents Carne and Ann Berry.

Mr Berry, who fist-pumped the air as his name was called out, said his grandfather was the first post master in Pongaroa.

It was fitting to be able to add a “first” to his own legacy now, he said.

Jason Elmers, member of the Pongaroa Fuel Stop Committee put the challenge to the people to “see if we can run this out of fuel today.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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