Mangawhai is surrounded by water.
Following the constant deluge of last summer there were pleas and prayers aplenty for a real northland summer this year. While other parts of the country further south are still waiting for theirs to arrive, Northlanders prayers have been answered in no uncertain terms as an estimation puts visitors to Mangawhai swelling the local population by at least four-fold.
Pleas and prayers are fine but they come at a price. The salty stuff that washes our shores twice daily is the return but the antithesis of long sunny days is the fresh sort we tend to take for granted – until it runs out! The majority of visitors from the city are coming to an area which has grown from a farming settlement and a small beach town reliant almost entirely on rainfall and the term ‘watch the water’ has little or no meaning until the taps simply fail to deliver.
Visitor numbers are growing, demand on water carriers has increased but now the supply itself is being overtaxed and a staple of life now becomes a much sought-after commodity.
Having farmed in the north for some years this writer knows it possible to see no rainfall from pre-Christmas until Easter - and at this juncture, Easter is a long way away considering we are but halfway through January and still to come are Anniversary weekend, Waitangi weekend, Walking Weekend, Easter, Anzac Weekend and the April school holidays, all of which are important to the commercial welfare of Mangawhai.
While modern technology is simply unable to fix the problem, modern technology has come to the fore in the shape of Facebook furore with a number of posters typically looking for someone to blame for the situation and some becoming unnecessarily abusive over a problem that can only be solved by magic or by nature.
Almost all accommodation in Mangawhai will have a wee note tacked somewhere in the bathroom advising of the need to conserve water. Full loads of washing, fifty toilet flushes per day, twenty minute showers to rid the body of sea salt, double shampoo the hair, condition, then rinse – on occasions on a daily basis – are fine but the trade-off is in water usage which many don’t realise until a turn of the tap delivers something akin to a muddy puddle.
Water carriers are under the pump (not sorry for the pun) as even their outlets come under severe pressure. The age old scenario of supply and demand means a further delay and greater cost, bearing the question ‘who pays?’
A good solid downpour of overnight rain could fix the problem in a couple of hours but in the meantime, we must believe in the power of prayer or maybe all join in a rain dance, actions taken by nomadic tribes since the beginning of time – and judicious usage of what little we have left.
In the meantime we still have glitches with traffic and parking and only time, patience and commonsense will sort those things. The three regular Mangawhai markets are well patronised, business owners report a busy (and no doubt fruitful) summer period which is imperative to the long term economy of seasonal towns and our award-winning grapevines are simply loving this summer weather. We should too.