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Internet connectivity and cell phone coverage was considered good in the village area of Ōhura, so much so that many people no longer had landline telephones:

"When I came here, I couldn’t believe the internet, everything was working!
The children don’t really lose out. They do lots of online classes and connect, so they don’t really lose out. They do a lot of learning online.
We've just dropped the landline."

In surrounding areas however, it was considered that internet and cell phone coverage was not satisfactory:

"It’s more often down than up. It’s more often one bar than four bars. The phone lines, our land lines go down. And the cell phone service, you can be on a call, and it’ll drop out. It’s because of the location of the tower.
There’s three or four schools in the country that they’re going to put on Starlink, and Tokirima is one of them, but they probably won’t have it until the end of the year. So, in the meantime they have to put up with a struggle.
I know Matiere has fibre but struggles with the phone."

Those living on farms often did not have cell phone service at all, or due to patchy service they relied on the copper lines. However, they felt that because the copper lines were, ‘on the way out,’ that the telecommunications service providers did not invest properly in maintaining this infrastructure, thus they felt underserviced in terms of telephone and internet:

"I have a great issue with the landline, it doesn’t work when it rains. And I’ve talked to Spark. They said to me if there’s something wrong with the line now I have to pay to have it fixed. If copper wire is getting phased out, then I have no cell phone coverage. It works when it wants to work. It’s pretty good but it cuts out. And if our power cuts out we’ve gone nothing if something happens. And it’s bull shit. And the whole country says, ‘Who needs a copper wire anymore?’ I need a copper wire!"

"All they talk about is getting rid of copper and they can’t get rid of copper until they give us a suitable cell phone service. It’s even the same at the (Tokirima) school. They cell phone service isn’t reliable and it’s a health and safety issue. If there’s an emergency and you don’t have a service that’s reliable, you’re in shit street if you live out here."

"The people that work for, what do they call themselves now, Spark? Telecom? Rebranded and it made no difference. The service is still shit. And Vodafone or One or whatever they call themselves now. And now they tell me, “You have to have internet to get your phone calls,” and I tell them, “I can’t get internet unless I want to pay through the nose for it, so I don’t want it,” And he goes, “But, well, you can get cell phone service,” and I said, “No I can’t.” And he said, “Yes you can,” and I said, “I am telling you, I am sitting on my veranda. I have my cell phone here. And I have no bars on it. I don’t have it.”"

In terms of accessing groceries, since 2020 residents were able to have certain groceries delivered for a fee:

"Countdown delivers here. Nothing fresh though. For $30 dollars for as much as you can buy, so you can’t buy um… dairy, meat or vegetables, except you can get onions and potatoes and things that don’t go off. You can get everything else from Countdown. And (the postie) brings it out and she’ll get as many banana boxes as she can fit in. I’ve done it a few times and it’s really good. It actually works out cheaper to do that than it does to go to town. And because we’re 3926 postcode here we’re not rural delivery so we just pay the town rate."

People without cars were considered to be among the most vulnerable in the community, in particular because of their difficulties accessing food and other essential supplies:

"If they don’t have a car, they have to ask friends."

"It’s sort of covered in that you… you’ve all got your one neighbour, and you make sure that neighbour’s fed. So, like, the ones with cars adopt one without cars. You look after one another."

"We’ve actually looked into establishing a car share out here as well but there are some people that are… quiet. They don’t speak up. They’re old, they’re unwell. They don’t want to be a bother. They need monitoring to make sure they have things like toilet paper and that, so they struggle to get to town once a month somehow. And then they buy only what they can afford and because the cost of everything is going up, their dollar is going less far and they’re not bringing back five packs of toilet rolls, they’re bringing one. So they need to go back sooner which they can’t do."

"During COVID, a lot of us just did a bigger shop for everyone else. I was shopping for four at one point."

"Somebody could get a business. Go into town and do shopping. But you have to trust that person to give them your card. Or like a library bus but with food in it. They could come out and… or meals on wheels. I’ve thought about it."

"But we ring around when we’re going into town… do you need anything? You don’t want to drive for two hours to buy something for $5, there’s no point. You have it on your phone the text, they want blah blah blah. So you put it all in different bags. You pay for it yourself, so we keep cash out here. That is one thing that with an aging population that we do need to address is supplies."

The lack of public transport was noted, although residents explained that a bus service had previously been trialed:

"Transport, there’s limited transport. This is a lower socio-economic area, so there’s limited transport."

"There was a bus, it was here for about 10 minutes. It was a trial. It was a trial that they had put round. But they sent it round at certain times of the day. And I was thinking sometimes of, like maybe a Miss Daisy type service would be better for those who wanted it rather than driving the bus out and nobody got on it. But with Miss Daisy, you ring up and pay so much or you can book it up. And then they will take you to where you want to go."

"(the bus) was $6 each way as well. "

The quality of roading was a concern as well as a source of disruption for residents of the area:

"Roading is an issue. Down Tokirima road there are about 60 potholes."

"There’s the communication. Now, the new guy’s taken over and he’s been really good. He’s been trying to work with the school to let them know. They have school buses, but parents can live half an hour from the school bus so we can’t be told at 2:15 that a road is closed and the bus is not going to get there. But communication has started to pick up. "

Some participants were concerned that problems with the roads and drains were left for too long before they were repaired, resulting in bigger problems:

"But the other thing is, when we’ve reported problems on the road, like the Otunui washout. It washed out, and I don’t know how many times locals rang them and told them about it and said, “if you don’t do something now about it, then the road is going to go.” And sure enough, the whole road washed out. And that’s the same with the culvert by our hall. We as locals, when it rains, we have to go down and make sure the culvert that comes off SH 43 and comes down to Tokirima Road and then goes under the road and out by the side of the hall, and make sure it’s not blocked otherwise all that water goes straight into the hall. And we’ve reported that and it still hasn’t been done."

"We’ve got one near our woolshed and the road is going to go, and all they ever do is put little orange sticks there! It’s going to go soon. Slips are a big issue."

"Nothing gets done until it’s too late. If they looked at it when it’s reported…. It’s the bigger picture. You don’t leave it ‘til it’s happened. Ambulance at the bottom of the hill. You see them and they get bigger, and bigger. And you report it. And it gets bigger. And then the road’s gone. "

As in 2020, residents were concerned that logging trucks contributed to damage to the roads, as well as creating road safety issues:

"And there’s a pile of logging trucks, we’ve a lot of logging trucks. I see them from my kitchen window. Fourteen a day at the moment, I count them. They turn off at Taumarunui to come over the Waitaanga and I say to anyone who will listen,

“Who has to die on the Waitaanga Road before someone will do something?” And you know what it is? It’s their road tax – it’s a shorter drive over the Waitaanga and I know they pay so much, they pay a lot of money to use those roads."
"That road is a goat track. They are ruining SH 43, all through there. It’s disgusting. The truck drivers are lovely, they will be pull over and they…, they can see my fury. But there is no way in hell, I tell visitors if they’re coming, “Do not take the Waitaanga Road.” Imagine my mum driving that road with logging trucks!"

"We will often try to follow one (a logging truck) so we’re behind one if there is one coming the other way."

"They go through in groups and they do pull over at the top of the first saddle, but we take that road early in the morning to go to work and we’ve even met trucks coming this way and big ones, big Kenworth’s, and one of them actually stopped for us and we were so grateful. It’s in thick fog and we’ve got our lights on but you can’t see much in front. I’m navigating, saying, “left hand corner, right hand corner,” on my GPS, and then you meet four logging trucks. Even the postie has been run off the road. Those washouts are on that road, it’s a Class Two road, it’s illegal to drive trucks on that road. It needs to stop."

"There’s a 40-tonne limit on those roads. Those trucks are at least 50 tonnes, if not more. They should be weighed coming out of Taumarunui before they even hit that road."

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