Nelson Floods, One Year On (2012)      © Fiona Terry
 

It's been nearly a year since vast tracts of Mike Robertson's Golden Bay dairy farm were consumed by floodwaters during one of the area's most tumultuous summers in history.

The unprecedented downpour left turmoil in its wake as mud, granite and sand were deposited over what was once lush pasture on his property adjoining the Wainui Inlet. After many frantic phone calls his 300 dairy cows were finally evacuated to other farms along treacherous roads that had turned into raging torrents strewn with debris from slips.

Remarkably, despite the fact that many hectares of his land had been buried in up to two metres of stark blonde granite, green has once again returned to his farm. His dairy herd is back, albeit at a reduced number, and as a perhaps unwanted indication of rejuvenation, lupins now bloom.

Never once has Robertson faltered with the Herculean task of clearing up the havoc the rainstorm left in its wake. This fourth generation farmer would make his ancestors proud with his positivity and stoicism.

In the last 12 months the father of two hasn't managed more than six days away from the farm. In that time thousands of tonnes of granite, boulders and debris have been scraped and shifted, paddocks re-seeded, fences rebuilt and rivers and creeks redirected and shored up with boulders. Against all odds, he's managed to regain some semblance of normality...