4th March 2016
TUAI AND DISTRICT FLOOD OF 1948
As a ten year old I have never forgotten the 1948 flood in Tuai and the whole district of 1948. My parents and I were up at Tuai Power Station visiting my Aunt and Uncle Jack and Margery Nicol. He was the Station manager for Tuai, Piripaua and Kaitawa Power Stations.
We arrived in a small Ford 10 Anglia for a weeks holiday. Dad had been very ill with Angina so couldn’t go back to the farm out of Masterton for a while. He was the Farm Manager. We took two days to get there and stopped the night on the way at what is now the Kennedy Park Motor camp. He loved the area as he had lived and worked for his Father on a farm first of all at Motu, North of Gisborne, and then at Devils Elbow in the 1920s. We arrived on the Saturday night and had nearly a week of very good days with me catching up with my 12 and 14 year old cousins and going and watching the workings of the power station. Dad was happy as he could take a sandwich for lunch and go and fish all day in Lake Waikaremoana. Mum was just happy to see Dad looking much brighter.
On the Friday night the weather broke and the torrential rain began. It came down continuously in sheets. We girls played cards, did jigsaws and played monopoly which ended in a big fight when my older cousin flung the whole monopoly board and threw it towards the fireplace. Fortunately it didn'[t go in. Dad had to sit and read. Mum and Aunty Marg tried to keep everyone happy. Uncle Jack had to repeatedly to go down the bottom of all the flood gates to unblock them from all the debris coming down. We all went once to see what was happening and Aunty Marg nearly had hysterics to see how dangerous it was for Uncle Jack each time new logs or branches came and blocked the sluice gates.
In the midst of the rain three new Maori babies were born and Aunty Marg as the local Midwife had to trudge out in the rain with her bag to go and make sure everything was going right for the Mother’s and the babies. After about 48 hours of nonstop rain it decided to slacken off. By this time the Mail bus, several visiting groups of families had been stuck with the silt from the rivers piling up more and more to the top of the telegraph poles for a large area of the road and some food items were in short supply. Mum had set to and made large batches of biscuits with whatever supplies were on hand and everyone was starting to feel the effects.
It took another five days for a bulldozer from Wairoa to arrive. Every car or vehicle had to fall in behind the bulldozer and the Mail bus to slowly follow behind to get out of Tuai. We took such an age just to get to Wairoa that we stopped there the first night. We slowly went on to the Kennedy Park camp the next day. The third day we got to Dannevirke and stayed with some strangers. We arrived home on the fourth day. Dad had picked up very well in that eventful time of the flood..