Easter has been our autumn visit to Tāne's Rest as this year Easter is late and combines nicely with ANZAC Day just after the following weekend. However because Easter is in the second half of April the weather is now deeply autumnal with cool days and the first cold nights.
Our visit was spent installing our rain harvesting and water storage system.
The summer drought on the East Cape has mercifully broken and green has returned to the palette of colours that paint the Tolaga Bay landscape. However, over the last month the rainfall pendulum has swung to the other extreme with the remnants of two tropical cyclones having made landfall in the Bay of Plenty and pushing over the East Coast hill country to the East Cape.
The first of these, in early April, was Cyclone Debbie that flooded Edgecumbe after the Rangitaiki River burst through a stopbank and caused dreadful damage. The second was Cyclone Cook that brought a combination of rain and high winds to Tolaga Bay, which might have been OK on its own, but Cook arrived just a week after Debbie had drenched the area and there had not been sufficient time for the soil to dry out.
Our little valley faces almost due east and would have been catching the wind like a wide-mouth funnel and just as with water in a funnel the wind piled up in the valley as it could not get out quickly enough. The wind at ground level would have been trapped by the winds screaming over the ridges and with nowhere to go it simply went round and round between the walls of the valley just as water does as it rushes to a plughole.
These twisting winds, combined with the saturated soil has meant that many of our pines on the lower slopes of the valley have been twisted like a corkscrew and then blown over when the soft waterlogged soil could no longer hold them up.
Our pine trees are nearly three years old so some are nearly two metres tall. Unfortunately for other growers in the area the wind and rain have also knocked over trees that are over 10 metres tall so now their plantation has been transformed from neat rows of soldiers standing to attention to a rabble of drunken sailors lurching at all angles. Our hearts go out to those foresters because at least we have a chance to straighten up many of our trees and heel the soil back around their trunks.
Cyclones and plantation timber trees definitely do not mix, especially when the cyclones hit with a double punch and we still have the rest of winter ahead of us. This is a timely reminder of the impacts of weather in the countryside and just as the drought caused challenges for others over the summer so we will face our challenges over the coming winter.
Others have been been worse affected but no-one on the Cape has faced the devastation wrought in Edgecumbe. We will be thankful our damage is only some lop sided pine trees that can thinned in years to come.
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.