Northland’s power cut not only brought widespread disruption to the region but also had a major impact on the last day of the Vodafone Warriors’ groundbreaking trip to Kaitaia.
Staff and players weren’t adversely affected initially but there would be significant travel issues later in the day.
While they became aware of the drama when Waimanoni Marae’s emergency lighting kicked in about 3.00am on Thursday, gas cooking facilities on the marae meant they were still able to have a normal breakfast.
Persistent rain also put a significant dampener on proceedings but had no effect on the Vodafone Warriors beginning their day three programme with a training session at Arnold Rae Park.
Acknowledging the public turning out in wet weather, the players put on a special signing session for them afterwards in the Kaitaia Rugby Club’s clubrooms.
A contingent of staff and players had to leave after the session to bus to Kerikeri to catch their flight back to Auckland. At least that was the plan but the power cut scuttled it, ensuring the party faced a long and slow haul back to Auckland by road (not helped by a slog through the city’s rush hour traffic).
Back in Kaitaia the balance of the squad joined 50 school children who had been specially selected for a VIP experience finishing with lunch at the Kaitaia Fire Station. There the Vodafone Warriors sat with the kids, did countless selfies, signed autographs and indulged in games and activities.
Joining forces to put on the lunch were the Kaitaia Volunteer Fire Service and the Beachcomber Restaurant and Bar; with both having generators, the ability to put on a hot lunch wasn’t compromised.
Among the players involved were Simon Mannering, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Manu Vatuvei, Bodene Thompson, Kieran Foran, Jacob Lillyman, Ben Matulino, Blake Ayshford, Tuimoala Lolohea, Albert Vete, Sam Lisone and Charlie Gubb.
After lunch the players and kids had been scheduled to do some work restoring a dilapidated ground and clubrooms which had previously been home to a local football team. After that the Vodafone Warriors were due to fly to Ardmore on the Royal New Zealand Air Force DC3 which had been chartered to take them to the Far North.
That flight was also cancelled due to the power cut, putting an end to hopes of the community project going ahead, with the players forced to bus back home.
Numerous local organisations and companies made the Vodafone Warriors’ visit possible. As well as the Kaitaia Volunteer Fire Brigade and the Beachcomber Restaurant and Bar, there was major support from the Far North District Council, Fly DC3, Fulton Hogan, Carrington Resort, Folders, Toll Kaitaia, The Warehouse, Ritchies, Subway, the Moko Foundation, New Zealand Police and New Zealand Defence Force as well as Ahipara Septic Tank Cleaners, Kaitaia Hire, Kaitaia Water Carriers, Ray White Real Estate (Far North), Far North RSA, Far North ITM, Geards Funeral Services, Club Physical Kaitaia, Laser Electrical Kaitaia, Pak’N’Save Kaitaia, Shackletons Pharmacy, Brakes Colour Plus, Beaurepaires Kaitaia, Mangonui Haulage, He Korowai Trust (Kaitaia) and RD1 Kaitaia.