Onetangi bach destroyed in minutes
Melted window glass and a charred frame are all that is left of an Onetangi bach after a fire last week.
A young American woman who was staying in the Sea View Road house escaped without injury, but lost all of her belongings in the fire, says Waiheke fire chief Ron Leonard.
The young woman “was screaming that the house was on fire,” so several people contacted the fire brigade.
The cause of the fire has been determined as oily rags combusting and setting the house alight.
Mr Leonard says the owners, who live beside the burned house, had been oiling the floors and threw the rags into the rubbish at the back of the house.
“Over the years, we have had a number of fires where oily rags have combusted,” he says.
Oily rags should be disposed of in a galvanised bin with a lid.
Volunteer firefighters were called to the blaze at about 3am on Wednesday last week and spent two hours battling the fire and dampening the site.
Locals lose hair for a cause
Waiheke’s Kim Campbell will join about 1000 New Zealanders when she has her head shaved tomorrow.
The 50-year-old says she usually helps collect money for the Cancer Society each year, but this year she was too busy.
Instead, she has decided to raise money for Leukemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand by becoming a “baldy”.
Mrs Campbell has “lost people in the past” but is not raising money for a particular person.
“So many people are touched by it and these guys do such a good job of providing real, practical help for families that are affected,” she says.
Mrs Campbell began with a realistic fundraising goal of $500, but has now raised about $800 and has lifted her goal to $1000.
Waiheke couple in the eye of Cyclone Pam
Just before Cyclone Pam roared through Vanuatu last week, Waiheke couple Lauren and Brent Ivory were celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary at a resort about 30 minutes from Port Vila.
The couple, who own well known Onetangi restaurant Charlie Farley’s, had booked a week’s holiday and had never been to Vanuatu before.
While relaxing in good weather for the first few days, Brent says they started hearing reports of the impending cyclone from about Tuesday onwards.
“It kept getting upgraded from category three, to four, to five,” he says.
Then on the Thursday, they were offered a flight out that night to Sydney.
“But staff from our original accommodation had already booked us into the Holiday Inn in Port Vila, saying it was the safest hotel in town.”
On this occasion, the couple had left their children Aria, Georgia and Grace safely at home on Waiheke.
Winds started picking up throughout the day on Friday and at 7pm, everyone was called down to the ballroom of the hotel with their pillows and duvets.
“There must have been about 250 people from all over the world sitting on the floor, tourists and hotel staff, while this huge storm raged outside.
“The walls were thick concrete, so we weren’t so worried about them collapsing, but there were shutters, mattresses and chairs up against all the windows,” says Brent.
The storm was incredibly loud.
“There was this howling noise, winds were gusting over 300 kilometres per hour, the power went out and we could hear windows being blown in, and water was coming in from the surge.”
By 3am, guests were told they could go back to their rooms.
However, waking up in the morning brought the next shock.
“There was absolute devastation around Port Vila, trees of four or five metres in width just completely upended and snapped in half, some pretty big concrete structures down, roofs off, power lines down, debris everywhere. Only one petrol station was open with a queue stretching about 500 metres down the road.”
The couple’s hire car had also taken a big hit.
“We did manage to drive it back, but it was pretty wrecked,” says Brent.
Later, they signed up with a party of workers asked to help out at the nearby hospital.
“Lauren and I joined about 30 others – nurses, builders – and we were just mopping and cleaning up, trying to clear a wing of the hospital so people could come back.”
Fortunately, the hospital had its own generator and a newer wing where the patients had all been crammed in.
Brent says he was surprised to see locals just going about their business amid the wreckage.
“We were pretty shattered and shocked, it was bewildering, but they seemed to be just getting on with things.”
He later heard that a worker in the Holiday Inn had lost her nine-year-old son, who had been crushed under a tree at the family’s home.
With no Air New Zealand flights leaving Vanuatu, they were finally able to board an Airforce Hercules on Monday evening for a four and a half hour flight back to Auckland.
“It was hot as hell and really noisy, but we were just glad to be getting out of there.”
The Ivorys arrived back on Waiheke on Tuesday morning, tired and relieved to be home. • Julianne Evans
Animal pests in researcher’s sights
Harriet Achi hopes her research on pest management will benefit Waiheke as well as her homeland of Nigeria.
Harriet is investigating pest animals on the island while in New Zealand on a scholarship to complete her doctorate in applied sciences at Auckland University of Technology.