7 Feb 2020

Under Five Hundy: Rahotu

From Country Life, 8:40 pm on 7 February 2020

Rahotu is a 300-strong close-knit community on Taranaki's Surf Highway.

It's home to a leatherworker who crafts props for blockbuster movies and a mechanic who, when Country Life visited, was trying to find a dead rat behind a dashboard.

Despite having taken his sign down, Rahotu's saddler is still rushed off his feet.

Steve is a leatherworker who owns one of Rahotu's handful of local businesses.

On the main street, you'll find the school, the tavern, a Four Square, a couple of garages and if you know where to look, Steve's workshop.

"People say 'I didn't even know who were here' and I say 'That's the idea, only those who need to find me, find me'."

Steve has made props, clothing and shoes for seven movies including Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Last Samurai, Kingdom Come and Spartacus.

He sews on gang patches, customises Harley Davidson seats, fixes tents, makes saddles and, for 16 years, has driven the school bus.

Steve says Rahotu has a wonderful community.

"Great people. Anyone that's in town has been here for many years, (we) get a few new people come in every so often but they're good sorts as well."

Garage owner and mechanic Jason Allan agrees.

In April 2018, a tornado ripped up one of Rahotu's roads, causing wide-spread damage, including to Jason's home.

"It was pretty devastating really. It took our sleepout roof off and put it through our kitchen window," he says.

The tornado hit at 7am and by 11am, 25 people had called in to see if the family was okay.

"They were so supportive," Jason's wife Belinda says. "It was overwhelming, actually."