Fuel For Thought
There are community halls, community libraries, and community shops. To the list can be added community petrol stations after residents of a remote town in New Zealand clubbed together to fund their own filling station. And who could blame them, for ever since the last garage in the town closed four years ago, people living in Pongaroa on New Zealand’s North Island have faced a four hour 144 mile round trip to either Pahiatua or Dannevirke to fill up their tanks. As Pongaroa Fuel Stop Committee member Mark Wheeler explained, by the time they got back to the town, “you’ve used a quarter of the fuel you’ve put in the damned thing”. To get round the problem local resident Fayln Hoggard told Radio New Zealand, “You’ve got to plan for it…Somebody like myself would be taking three 20-litre containers in the back of the car on a weekly or fortnightly basis, as well as filling the car up.” But not everyone was able to plan ahead. Tourists for example often ended up running out of fuel in the area. “Everybody had to rally around see if they could fill a can to get them to wherever the nearest petrol stop would be,” added Mr Wheeler. So it would seem at NZ$250,000 or £135,000, the new station is money well spent. Half of the cost was funded through donations, with the remainder covered by interest free loans as well as a grant from the local authority. On seeing the lights switched on at Pongaroa’s new petrol station, Mr Wheeler said, “We said to each other that there’s no Christmas lights or fireworks display that could look better than this right now.” Christmas has come early for Pongaroa and its residents.