What the River Washed Away
Oxfam Aotearoa • North & South Magazine
In the autumn of 2017, a succession of record-breaking weather systems tore up and down New Zealand. Each seemed to be heralded as a once-in-a-century event. The Bay of Plenty was hit hard, battered by one freakish storm after another. Long-time residents of the small town of Edgecumbe, 15km west of Whakatane, said they’d never seen the Rangitaiki River running so high.
Eight months on, the waiting game for Edgecumbe residents continues. Some talk about sleeping in their clothes, just in case they have to leave in a hurry again. Only a handful of those whose properties were damaged have been able to move back in. For the rest, “going home” fades into an uncertain future.