The martins, manakau, and the road that changed their lives – twice west la college track and field

The martin family of manakau discovered all three options would run through part of their farm. Running a business on the remaining land would be difficult, possibly unworkable.

In a place like manakau, everybody knows everybody; everybody is connected, whether by family, friendship, or lives lost to the highway running past the village. The martins are known for all three.

Pip martin: "I went away to university and teaching and travelling and so on. I came back here in 1980 and met up with john again. I’d always known him, but he was nine years older than me. So he’s 74. So where this is all going for him – he doesn’t want to move. He does not want to retire. He wants to just keep going, his aim is to drop dead in the back gully.

Gary williams (family friend, manakau resident): "they’re the original martins of martinborough, but they’re the ones that came over this side.Martin john they’re the ones that came to the better land. We’ve been here 30 years and just about known them right from that time."

Pip martin: "my parents came to manakau when I was a baby, I was nine months old. Moved into the village, my father was an original lifestyler, I’ve decided. He was a market gardener, but actually he really just liked gardening, so he wasn’t very realistic."

John martin: "well, I came home initially and I milked the cows, in those days it was different. I milked the cows once a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, for seven years. Then I had, I think, about a week, 10 days, off. Then did it again for another five years.

Jeff fox (manakau resident, builder, vintage propeller maker): "john’s always been fairly sort of quiet.Gary williams dry sense of humour. Pip, I went to school with her brothers.

Pip martin: "john’s mother did all the landscaping and the garden. She was a full-time gardener, so you can see the stone walls and the old tennis court and there’s a big vegetable garden down the bottom which I’ve still got.

"They hand-dug the swimming pool when john came home – he was 15 when he came home from school one easter. We’ve still got that pool and last year we put 60 metres of bandages on all the cracks in the concrete."

Andrew martin (pip and john’s son): "I have a very distinct memory. I was only young at the time, must have only been 10 or 12, and the old man said to me, ‘you walk those animals across the farm there and take the dog with you’. I remember them getting in this nice flat paddock of grass, and putting their heads down, and I’m running backwards and forwards and I ended up in tears at the end of it.Came home

"It sort of makes you or breaks you. If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. We’re here 25, 30 years later and I’m still chasing cows around."

David martin (pip and john’s son): "I went to manakau school. It didn’t do me any harm. I don’t really have a comparison, because I never went to any town schools. You definitely do know everybody’s name and you carry that through as you get older."

[on daughter helen martin] she was a pretty good kid. She’d just sat school C. Actually the NZQA people were great, they gave us her marks before they released everybody else’s ones. She got 90 in music. She was a good violinist and pianist. She was a good musician. She was a very easy child.

Andrew martin: "it’s just like setting a bomb off in the middle of the fields, and when you change one thing in an operation, you get this massive snowball effect."

Gary williams

Gary williams: "what’s happening right now, it’s causing huge problems in the community. It’s dividing people, it’s putting a lot of stress on them.

"There’s some people just around the corner from us who bought a property there, and then they did it all up and thought, ‘this is where we’re going to retire into’. They wouldn’t get their money back because they spent a huge amount on it."

John martin: "the sun will rise tomorrow morning. It doesn’t matter what route goes through, we will have to consider what changes we make. We will have to make changes."

Pip martin: "if they chose one of those options and it is the best option, socially, economically, geographically, that’s fine, I can absolutely live with that. Our daughter helen was killed on that road down there [SH1 at manakau].Came home she was 16."

Jeff fox: "we’ve found it much better now that they’ve slowed it [the speed limit] down to 80. We haven’t had a ding outside here for ages, you get the odd one up at the north end, at the shop.

Pip martin: "she crossed the road in front of the truck. We don’t know whether she was distracted, or what. They couldn’t find anything wrong with the car … Something came off the car and hit her on the head … The truck went over the passenger side and completely smashed it, but her side was basically untouched except some chunk of roof hit her on the head.

Gary williams (family friend): "she was coming round here, our daughter was home and they were oiling our weatherboards because we don’t have painted ones, we have oiled ones.

Jeff fox: "we just heard the bloody racket, which was the truck sliding up the road with no axle in it, it went off the road just by the deer farm museum, it went off into the paddock, the guy broke his arm but he just missed the power pole."

Martin john

Gary williams: "it was a huge funeral. It’s one of those really sad things. We couldn’t really work out what happened. The truck driver was really upset. It just seemed helen veered over the road.

"There were two other fatal accidents that day. One on arapaepae rd, going to palmerston north, and one near bulls. The one on arapaepae rd, or just north of there, a young guy just drove off the road into a tree. It wasn’t a very good day."

Jeff fox: "A mate of mine here, he was in the paraparaumu brigade at the time, he jumped in the car … He kept her head up and that, the breathing side of it."

Philip comber (retired levin coroner who heard helen’s inquest): "every inquest is someone’s tragedy, but inquests such as helen’s are particularly harrowing for a coroner.Gary williams sitting on the bench and watching the grief of parents hearing the details of their child or children dying under the wheels of a truck is simply horrible."

Pip martin: "six months after she died we invited all her friends and anyone, family and friends, to come and plant a tree. We fenced it off and we said this is going to be helen’s bush and we labelled the trees, and john made up name tags and put numbers on pegs so we know whose trees are whose."

Philip comber: "it is obvious to those of us who live in the horowhenua that there has been a marked increase in traffic since the [kāpiti] expressway opened and I am fearful that a further increase will occur once the ōtaki bypass is in place.

Pip martin: "when you lose somebody like that you can’t deal with anything, you can’t bear to read a newspaper.Gary williams and I still can’t read about things that happen to children, bad things. I can’t even read them. But the one thing you can do is go out in the garden, it’s the one thing you can get motivated to do. Nothing else can motivate you.

– A single route for the next part of the expressway will be offered up by the NZ transport agency to its board for approval to go to the next stage of planning in mid-2018.