New Zealand town has itself to tank after solving petrol drought

Powered by article titled “New Zealand town has itself to tank after solving petrol drought” was written by Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin, for on Tuesday 17th October 2017 01.03 UTC

A tiny New Zealand town has built its own petrol station after local people got fed up with driving a two-hour round trip to stock up on fuel.

Pongoroa in the lower North Island is home to just 120 people and has been without a petrol pump for four years. As a result residents faced a journey to other towns to fill up, often carrying extra jerry cans in the back seat to make it worth the expense.

Frustrated with the commute and determined to keep their rural town viable, Pongoroa’s residents fundraised NZ$250,000 to build a petrol station. Petrol company Allied Petroleum contributed close to NZ$1m to the project, despite being initially sceptical the isolated fuel stop would ever pay off.

Around New Zealand essential services are increasingly withdrawing from small towns and postal deliveries are being scaled back.

“We are a rural community and farming is the main economic activity here. We are just trying to grow and future-proof our town,” said Andrew Casey, a local resident.

The Pongoroa petrol station while it was under construction.
The Pongoroa petrol station while it was under construction. Photograph: Pongoroa Fuel Stop Project

“It is that or die I suppose. Community spirit is oozing out of the ground, there is a local joke that there are more committees than there are residents in Pongoroa. We are looking after ourselves very well, as much as possible.”

To keep costs low, local people helped build the petrol station, holding working bees to prepare the site, supplying equipment and contributing to basic jobs.

The pumps opened over the weekend and some locals say the home-grown effort has taken on a “spiritual” quality. Patrons at the Pongoroa Hotel couldn’t stop glancing proudly at the product of their sweat and toil.

Allied Petroleum general manager Alastair Tennent told RNZ he suspected Pongora’s determination in getting a fuel pump would inspire other New Zealand towns in isolated regions to do the same.

“I would say it’s been a real vision and tenacity by a local committee that’s got them to where they are today … it was a tremendous effort by the locals.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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New Zealand town has itself to tank after solving petrol drought | NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).