That Christmas Eve in 1953 when a lahar swept down the Whangaehu River from Ruapehu’s crater lake, carrying away a train packed with people and presents. 151 people were killed that night, including the engineer and the fireman.
sadness of the water swirling
across the battered rocks and buttresses
where nothing remains
but the memories
of a Christmas that never was
and some who never made it home
(Ironically Tangiwai in Maori means weeping water)
In 1871 the long-awaited bridge over the river was opened to carry all traffic between Wanganui and the northern districts, and the railway bridge further up-stream was completed six years later. Railway construction was slow, however, and it was not until 1885 that Wanganui was linked with New Plymouth. Finally, in November 1886, when the Manawatu Railway Company’s line was opened from Thorndon (Wellington) to Longburn, rail transport was thus available from Wanganui to Wellington. From 1882 to 1891, however, the growth of population was very slow. The expansion that did take place was largely due to the growth of dairying, not only locally but also in Taranaki, for the lack of suitable ports in the northern district was a gain to Wanganui.
‘WANGANUI’, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/1966/wanganui (accessed 03 Aug 2017)
New Zealand’s longfin eels (Anguilla dieffenbachia)
The longfin eels of New Zealand are a unique and threatened species with a precarious future. They can take 20 or more years to reach maturity, and reproduce only once In their lives. Once they are mature they leave their freshwater homes and swim many miles out to sea where the eggs are laid and fertilized. They then drift back to New Zealand on the ocean currents, eventually swimming upstream to restart the life cycle.