Where’s That Pesky River Gone Now?

We’re all used to getting up in the morning after a storm and heading off around the neighbourhood collecting recycling bins, rubbish bins and even garden furniture which has wandered off overnight.

But what do you do when you climb out of the “scratcher” and find that your river has buzzed off overnight?

This interesting situation confronted the Greene family at Kaiariki, Poverty Bay in 1876.

The heavy rains that fell in January of that year caused more flood damage in Poverty Bay than any of its recorded predecessors. At Wharekaia, 22.85 inches of rain fell in a week. On the flats, the floodwaters broke out of the Awapuni Lagoon, flattening the sandhills as they went.

Seven women and six children were rescued at Makauri by a boat sent from Gisborne, and a yacht rescued Mrs Bilham who was marooned on the western side of the Waipaoa River.

The Greene family found their river – it was waiting for them at the back door – having decided to change its course overnight.

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