This year, news bulletins have been strangely silent about predictions for an El Nino or La Nina summer but this has not stopped the East Cape being locked in the grip of a drought that some locals are describing as the worst in living memory.
Around Tolaga Bay, except for the pine forests and tee tree the hills have long since lost their green carpet of grass, the vegetation has gone past being brown and under the searing sun appears yellow against an electric blue sky. Gisborne has recorded 36 degrees in the shade.
Friends that grow horticultural crops alongside the Mangaheia River have been searching for water to irrigate their crops but with no substantial rain since September the river's normally strong flow is now a trickle. Worse is that the river flow has been so low for so long that the high tide has forced salt water up the river channel so that where their land meets the river the water has the salinity of 50% seawater. At the house the river is 30% seawater and yet that point is at least eight kilometers upstream from the mouth of the river at the beach.
They can do nothing more than hope for rain. The government says that drought relief is still two weeks away.
Against this backdrop of natural challenges we have laboured to build by hand our roof to shelter Major Sprite. There is much satisfaction to be gained from beginning with a heap of timber, a stack of roofing and bags of fasteners and ending up with a structure that says we have arrived and are here to stay, will protect our bedroom and collect our water when eventually the rain does return. Marie has cleared the pine debris off a huge area around our living space and heaped it up for burning when we can get a fire permit.
It has also been a great opportunity to spend time with Zane before he moves away from home to begin university in Wellington, a path Grant followed 38 years ago. His labour will also turn into some weekly spending money as he embarks on the next exciting stage of his life.
This blog is the ongoing story of our piece of paradise on the East Cape we have named Tāne's Rest. Visit our About pages to read more about our project, and feel free to leave a comment on any of our posts.
Uawa County existed for 45 years from 1 December 1918 to 1 April 1964 before merging with Cook County. Click on the map to download a copy.