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Year In Review – October

The Times-Age reported on the first meeting of a new project advisory group formed to prepare for the Masterton Civic Facility, South Wairarapa District councillors and the deputy mayor unanimously passing a vote of no-confidence in Mayor Martin Connelly, and wild weather sending trampolines flying and tree debris ripping through powerlines, starting multiple fires.

October 3

A fire on Norfolk Rd, Carterton destroyed an implement shed. Fire Emergency confirmed the second-alarm blaze required assistance from four fire trucks, two water tanks from Masterton and Carterton, and additional support from Remutaka and Trentham. Masterton Fire Station told the Times-Age that farm-type implements, engineering tools and a tractor inside the shed were destroyed.

October 4

One person in a serious condition was airlifted by a Life Flight helicopter to Wellington Hospital after their motorcycle collided with a truck on Lincoln Rd, near Akura Rd, Masterton. A member of the public who happened to be near the scene but did not witness the crash said they saw the motorcycle on fire and swiftly grabbed a fire extinguisher from Carroll’s Joinery and put the fire out.

A 50-year-old woman pleaded guilty to theft after she was found with a vast number of flowers and plants in her vehicle that she had stolen from Queen Elizabeth Park [QEP]. A police spokesperson told the Times-Age that the woman was seen stealing and putting flowers and plants in her vehicle at QEP at around 6.30am on September 3. According to Masterton District Council infrastructure and services committee, a conservative estimate of the cost of the resulting damage and loss is $4392 – which also takes into account staff time to replant.

October 5

Although signs plastered around the region with oversized pictures of local candidates are the hallmark of any good election campaign, some residents raised concerns about the safety of a Kuripuni intersection due to hoardings allegedly blocking the visibility of oncoming traffic. The site in question – where Dixon St, South Rd, High St, and Queen St meet – had been approved by Masterton District Council [MDC] for general and local body election signage for some time, an MDC spokesperson said.

October 9

Wairarapa’s firefighters, friends and families led a standing ovation to acknowledge 50 years of service from a very special volunteer. Carterton brigade’s Gordon Taylor – aptly going under the nickname ‘Flash’ – received a double gold star to signify the half-century he had dedicated to the emergency service, longer than some in the room had been alive for.

Too many hunters and dog walkers have been caught walking around the Kaipaitangata Water Treatment Plant in the Carterton District so new signage will be displayed on the entrance gates warning the public to keep away from the out-of-bounds area. A CDC spokesperson told the Times-Age that the hunters and dog walkers were given a verbal warning in the first instance, with the understanding that the matter would be referred to the police should there be a reoccurrence.

October 10

The new project advisory group formed to prepare for the Masterton Civic Facility consultation met for the first time to begin discussions about options for the Masterton Town Hall and district library.

A new breast screening clinic on Masterton’s Chapel St marked the end of Wairarapa women having to wait for a mobile screening truck to visit or travel over the hill for routine breast cancer screenings.

October 11

A planned 24-hour national strike by doctors was been called off, but senior medical staff at Wairarapa Hospital said serious issues with staffing remain unresolved.

October 12

South Wairarapa District Council began preparations for the arrival of its newly appointed chief executive, Janice Smith.

October 13

The Department of Internal Affairs was asked to provide support to the South Wairarapa District Council after councillors and the deputy mayor unanimously passed a vote of no-confidence in Mayor Martin Connelly.

However, damage caused by a car to the outfield and across the northern end of the pitch block at Masterton’s Queen Elizabeth Park Oval forced the move of Wairarapa Cricket’s inaugural North vs South match to the Hadlow artificial pitch. The game for the ‘Seth Rance Bat’ was the first of the season on the grass. The council’s manager of community facilities and activities, Corin Haines said, “To see carefully prepared turf ripped up by this act of idiocy is heartbreaking, even for people not involved in cricket.”

October 14

Prue Harawira-Smith became the first Justice of the Peace [JP] to be sworn in on a marae in Wairarapa in a historic occasion. The ceremony was held on Hau Ariki marae, where Harawira-Smith is a committee member, and mades her the only current Māori JP in Wairarapa.

October 16

“It’s an unbelievable privilege to have the opportunity to represent the community and try and problem-solve,” said newly elected Wairarapa MP Mike Butterick after winning 20,313 votes in the Wairarapa Electorate vote. The National Party won the party vote with 38.76 per cent.

October 17

Wairarapa’s emergency services were kept on their toes as wild weather resulted in flying trampolines, tree debris ripping through powerlines, and multiple fires. Gusts at Castlepoint got up to 162kmh, and there were multiple reports of fallen trees and fires over the weekend. The winds were constant since Saturday, and Powerco crews were called to multiple reports of power outages, the most significant of which affected 1376 households.

For the first time since the competition began in 1993, a Wairarapa band, The Dead Zephyrs won the Battle of the Bands national final. “We battled against nearly 50 other bands all over the country, and we’ve made Wairarapa proud by showing them what we’re made of,” said guitarist and lead vocalist Ryan Coles.

October 18

An intoxicated driver who was the sole carer for his ill partner was handed a lighter sentence after crashing a vehicle while nearly four times over the legal limit. Landscape gardener Danny Novak, 62, appeared in Masterton District Court facing charges for careless driving and driving with excess breath alcohol. He was also charged with driving contrary to the terms of an alcohol interlock license, where the driver can only get behind the wheel of a vehicle fitted with an alcohol interlock device. Novak was sentenced to six months of community detention, and a 12-month supervision period and was disqualified from driving for 28 days.

October 19

A Wairarapa school was left reeling by the death of one of its pupils in a car crash. Rathkeale College year 13 student Murad Salayev died after a two-vehicle crash on Main Road North at Timberlea north of Upper Hutt on Friday, October 13. A second person was taken to hospital with moderate injuries. SH2 was closed for almost five hours while the police investigation was completed and the crash scene was cleared.

Wairarapa Montessori on Lincoln Rd is back in business after being granted a provisional licence by the Ministry of Education [MoE]. After receiving a complaint from a parent, MoE investigated the centre on August 21 and later suspended its licence after finding it was non-compliant in a range of areas.

October 20

What’s more quintessentially Kiwi than a sizzling sausage on the barbecue in summer? The small but mighty meaty delight received the recognition it deserves, thanks to the Great New Zealand Sausage Competition, with Masterton’s Homegrown Butchery snagging itself a Gold Medal for its beef brisket and steak butter banger at the prestigious annual event. Other winners in the region included Scotty’s Meats, which received a Silver for its venison patty and a Bronze for its goat curry, while Four Square in Martinborough took out a Gold for its beef sausage and Silver for its lamb patty.

October 21

The team at Pukaha National Wildlife Centre were celebrating their newest arrival, which needed a helping hand to hatch. A pair of kiwi from Pukaha’s direct facility, Mapuna and Manawa had two eggs, but ranger Tara Swan said sadly one wasn’t viable. “We weren’t concerned but just wanted to see what was going on,” ranger Tara Swan said. “Its little wing was blocking its beak, and it couldn’t break out.” With a little assistance, it managed to hatch without any further complication and weighed just over 250g. “It’s a feisty wee thing already.”

October 23

A threat to disrupt a South Wairarapa District Council gathering was so significant that councillors cancelled the event in fear for the safety of those participating. The event was a drop-in session at Featherston’s community centre, intended as an informal catch-up between the community and council. Councillor Rebecca Gray alerted the public via Facebook that the event was postponed, due to “aggressive and threatening messaging from some in the community”.

A tramper in the Tararua Ranges was rescued after activating a personal locator beacon [PLB]. The tramper had injured their knee and activated the PLB at about 3pm from a hut in the ranges, prompting the Maritime NZ’s Rescue Coordination Centre to send a helicopter in response.

South Wairarapa’s Wharekauhau Country Estate has yet again received international recognition after claiming a spot as one of the best resorts in the world in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Coming in at number 46, the luxury estate has ranked higher than some resorts in the likes of St Barths, upstate New York, South Africa, and Canada.

October 24

A coroner says a health authority investigation into a surgical mistake that caused the death of prominent shearing identity Koro Mullins “obfuscated the search for the truth” and “added to the trauma” of his whānau. Mullins, from Dannevirke, died in Wellington Hospital on September 16, 2019, after a fatal injection of air into one of his arteries at the start of what was supposed to have been a routine stent procedure.

October 25

Bidwills Cutting Rd had temporary traffic lights set up and oncoming traffic waiting patiently while a truck was hauled out of the ditch it had driven into late yesterday afternoon. Police said they received a report of the single-vehicle crash at about 1.45pm. It appeared that a truck had veered off the road and into a water race.

October 26

After a tense debate lasting more than an hour, Carterton District Council [CDC] voted against establishing a Māori ward at its council meeting yesterday. When the first of two votes on the issue was tied, there was dismay among those who supported the ward being established. “For me, to try and explain this to my kids tonight, it’s horrific,” one councillor who was close to tears said.

Waka Kotahi threw South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] a lifeline and continued to fund maintenance and repairs to Cape Palliser Rd until the end of 2027. Funding had been expected to stop from July 1, 2024, which would have meant SWDC ratepayers absorbing an annual forecast cost of $494,000 – despite the road’s upkeep costing Waka Kotahi an average of $667,894 annually since 2007 [not including emergency repairs].

October 27

Wairarapa emergency services responded to a report of a man who had become stranded on the rocks of the Ruamāhanga River at Double Bridges, off Bluff Rangitūmau Rd, Masterton, at around 3.45pm on Wednesday. It was reported that the man – who was with his two dogs – got into trouble after getting into the river to save one of his dogs.

October 28

A bail application for a young man who allegedly assaulted his former partner with a hammer was denied, in the interest of protecting the complainant and her children. George Irons, 22, was facing charges of contravening a protection order, assaulting a person with a blunt instrument, committing a threatening act towards a person in a dwelling, four charges of assault on a person in a family relationship, and two charges of assault with intent to injure.

October 30

Eketāhuna’s Bowling Club [EBC] had to make the decision to shut its doors after more than 100 years of operation. The fate of the club was finally sealed at EBC’s annual meeting, in acknowledgement of a number of issues, including a shortage of members, and the way in which the work required to maintain the grounds and buildings was getting beyond the nine remaining members, who are currently in their 70s and 80s. The decision to gift the grounds and building to the Eketāhuna Community Charitable Trust was made in hopes of either leasing or selling it to “benefit” the district through grants and projects in the future.

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