Raetihi people are highly aware of issues pertaining to water quality following the pollution of their water supply by diesel in 2013.
“Water wise, we have had significant improvement with a new water plant. It wasn’t that way for a while with the diesel, but now we have water that is the cleanest in the country. But we still have issues with some of the natural waterways and farmers have to fence them but it’s not always happening.”
“The community used the waterways for swimming, we have three or four good swimming holes and the water is safe as far as we know. How can we test it, do we know where the kids are swimming is safe? They’re not going to listen to us anyway.”
“I’m not aware of any health issues from swimming in the rivers.”
“The diesel in the river opened up a few cans of worms so everything has been cleared because of that and everyone has brought everything up to par.”
“I’m not sure about the market gardens and their runoff.”
Participants felt that the weather patterns in the area were changing over the longer term to a hotter, drier climate. The impact of this on the local ski-related economy was raised as a concern.
“Heaps of changes in the climate. We’ve got hotter summers, but here especially we’ve never had these sorts of temperatures. Its climate change. It’s dry, it hasn’t been known to be this dry. Certainly the mountain is dependent on people there skiing and sometimes we’ve had seasons when it’s pretty bad and there’s not a lot of snow up there, I mean, they have snow making machines but that’s affected all the towns. Because in a sense they’ve been closed, so accommodation gets cancelled and our eating houses.”
Residents have put significant amount of work into improving access to local natural features, which have beautified and added recreational amenity to the township. This improvement of accessibility to the natural environment was considered a worthwhile a pursuit that could be furthered.
“I think the community is doing really well at the moment with our rivers and walkway like the Makotuku Walkway and the Ameku Road walkway. They’re just beautiful and we’ve been for walks and you see lots of people. But one of things that would help is a cycle link between Ohakune and Raetihi, and that is a project that is in hand, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s not as easy as it should be.”
Naturally, the most obvious civil defence risk to the town is perceived to be volcanic eruption, however the likelihood of this affecting Raetihi is thought to be minimal. Generally it was considered that individuals and families were not well prepared for a civil defence emergency.
“I think we’re a bit blasé about it because we always think it is going to blow on the other side. And the times it has blown the ash has gone on the Turangi/Waiouru side, so I think we’re a bit blasé really. If we had a significant blow then yeah, the whole region would be at risk. We’re not prepared”.
“When the shit hits the fan the community comes together. Like when the diesel happened, we saw the community come together and check that the elderly were OK, the Maraes were open, the hotel for accommodation, businesses. So the community comes together in a time of crisis or if anything was to happen.”
“I think it’s crucial that people have a backup plan and have a few things together and some water. I can remember when we had the diesel spill and I had, because my family used to tease me about having a water tank, and don’t tell anyone we’ve got water coz they’ll kill us, and it happened! I had back up stuff, because of the Christchurch earthquake, I had food and water and stuff, but others don’t. And we are blasé about it. The whole country is. Because of where we are situated in terms of the mountain we should have something.”