Thoughts turn to how district has changed

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A couple of weeks ago, the Waitaki District Council called a meeting at Tokarahi to discuss the Livingstone fire, which occurred earlier in the month.

There were about 60 people, mainly locals, present, as well as representatives of Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Network Waitaki and the council. All spoke and answered questions, which certainly enlightened everyone.

More than 600ha of mainly pine trees were burnt, so it was a major event and the meeting was an opportunity to learn, discuss options, maybe avoid a repeat, thank people or even have a little gripe.

It got me thinking how our district has changed – and that we just don’t have meetings like that very often.

I live in Enfield and the social fabric of our district is so different now.

The residents are much more transient.

The workforce is more transient.

Corporate farms have different dynamics from our once traditional family farm.

I remember going to political candidates’ meetings in the Enfield Hall. They were great entertainment – in fact, real theatre and they were repeated in every district, in every country hall.

The hub of any district is always the school.

When I went to the Enfield School there were more than 100 pupils and it was thriving. Concerts, pet days, sports days, hikes, field trips.

Then for my kids – who went to the same school – play-centre, Guides, Brownies, Scouts, Cubs, pony club, music.

But by about 2010, numbers had dropped off and the community decided to close the school.

All of the sports and organisations then just seem to have faded away.

The hall was used almost every day of the week. Monday – badminton; Tuesday – Young Farmers Club, Federated Farmers or the Women’s Division of Federated Farmers; Wednesday – Lodge; Thursday – indoor bowls; and then dances and parties at the weekend with Sunday school on a Sunday morning.

At the nearby domain, there was rugby, cricket, rifle shooting and athletics – the Easter sports days were quite massive events. There was also a strong tennis club and the two top class courts are still, thankfully, getting some use.

The Presbyterian church remains and is used fortnightly. The Catholic church, which was not long ago well-used, is now a private residence.

So the school and all those sports and organisations have gone, but it is great that the old school has been transformed into high-quality accommodation and the Fort Enfield, which was a grocer’s shop, now has new owners and taking on a new lease of life.

A mate said recently: “We lived in the best times and didn’t know it!”.

Maybe, maybe not.

It is just different and you can’t relive the past.

There are many different choices of entertaining ourselves now and much of it is centred in Oamaru. We could all do better at knowing our neighbours, though.

It was good to see the communities of Livingstone and Tokarahi getting together last month.

There is a good chance that in the future there will be other testing events. Some of these can be planned for; others simply hit us.

Let’s be ready to deal with them!