A man likes not to be ignored even by a railway accident.

W.N.P. Barbellion

I’ve always felt a special relationship with the Tangiwai disaster, merely because it happened not far from where we lived. We knew people who died. My father went out to see what he could do to help – he was waiting at the station for a family friend, Bruce Tabb, to arrive from Auckland on the south bound train and heard the news there. When he got to Tangiwai, he found the road bridge had gone down as well and that all those who needed helped were on the far bank of the river. His contribution was to drive a local doctor, Doctor Jordan by name, right around Ruapehu via National Park and the Desert Road to Waiouru and thence to Tangiwai, a journey of some fifty miles in the middle of the night. I often wonder what he did then, but have no way of knowing now. I think I must have forgotten to ask him. I still feel I ‘own’ the disaster, but in fact it had nothing to do with me. I was not even two years old at the time.

No comments: