Back seat birth in Coromandel storm

RESTING: Tania Maguire, with partner Tony Richardson, cradles newborn Taryn after her dramatic arrival in a storm.
RESTING: Tania Maguire, with partner Tony Richardson, cradles newborn Taryn after her dramatic arrival in a storm.

Little Taryn Lynne Maree Richardson entered the world in the heart of a fierce storm that trapped her anxious parents on a dark and isolated rural Coromandel roadside.

Taryn’s mother, Tania Maguire, said she caught the 3.5kg bundle as she ‘‘dropped’’ onto the back seat of their station wagon about 3.30am today.

They were alone inside the vehicle, which was trapped between a fallen tree and powerlines, as the powerful winds tore down Kauaeranga Valley Rd like a jet engine.

Maguire wrapped the newborn in her robe, held her close and checked her airway, waiting for her husband-to-be to return from getting help.

He had no idea what was waiting for him: ‘‘I'll never forget that [look on his face],’’ Maguire said. ‘‘Just utter shock that I'd delivered the baby by myself in the car. Once I had baby I was fine - this one needed more help after that.’’

Her partner Tony Richardson said he was stunned.

‘‘At that stage it was, 'now what am I going to do?'’’

Everything had been going smoothly until a few moments earlier. Maguire was 38 weeks pregnant and expecting her second child any day when an angry easterly storm moved onto the Coromandel from the north on Tuesday night.

About 2.50am, her contractions started.

Maguire, speaking from the comfort of her Thames Birthing Unit bed several hours later, said she rang her midwife who summoned her to Thames.

‘‘They didn't come slowly, they were just, wham wham wham. I'm like, ooh, ok, cool, we're not too far from the maternity unit.’’

Their house was sheltered from the wind and it wasn’t till they started driving that they realised how intense it was.

‘‘The first thing was branches everywhere,’’ Richardson said. 

‘‘Then we came across the power pole on the road and the lines. We waited for the wind to ebb, drove over that, and then we saw why the power pole was down - a huge tree. And now I was between the lines and the tree.’’

Richardson said going back was too risky. They were trapped.

‘‘It's the biggest tree I've seen on the road, a big old pine tree,’’ Maguire said.

‘‘So I'm freaking out by this stage. There was no time to talk. I saw a house and said go to the house.’’

The power was out and there was no cellphone reception. Nor could the residents hear Richardson banging in the raging storm.

Eventually Richardson found cellphone reception and requested an ambulance.

The McConnell finally saw his torch light too, and got to work figuring out a way around the road block.

Back at the car, the baby wasn’t waiting.

‘‘I could feel her pushing but I didn't think I was ready to push ‘cause I'd only been having contractions for 30 minutes. I propped myself up with my arms on the back seat and then did a few pushes, because I couldn't stop then.

"Yeah, she dropped out and I just picked her up and tucked her into the robe with me. I cleared her mouth and leaned her forward to make sure she could breath and Tony finally came back again.’’

Jim McConnell led Richardson and Maguire through farm tracks, dodging soft spots, to waiting emergency services.

‘‘The ambulance driver and fireman got into the car and drove us back," Maguire said, "They didn't want to get the baby out in the cold.’’

Thames Volunteer Fire Brigade station officer, Shane Bromley was at the wheel, beside Richardson. Maguire, baby and the medic were in the back.

‘‘She clamped off the umbilical cord and made sure baby was warm. She told me I did a good job.’’

Baby wasn’t named at that stage. Maguire and Richardson couldn’t agree on the right one. When they heard the medic’s name, Karyn, they both liked it, but with a T.


Thames Coromandel District Council reported contractors had isolated the fallen powerlines in Kauaeranga Valley Rd quickly and were working to move the tree this morning.

Easterly gales were expected to continued throughout today up to a possible 130 kmh, before slowly easing overnight.
Fire, power and roading crews are out around the Coromandel today working to clear trees, restore power and clear roads.

Bromley advised people to stay off the roads if possible, especially on the east coast.

Te Aroha Fire Brigade was kept busy between last night and this morning - with 13 roofs lifted, eight trees down and one roof collapse - the latter resulting in an elderly woman being evacuated to a motel.

A tree fallen on a pump shed and fence blown down at Te Aroha Leisure Pools have closed the pools until further notice.

The Coromandel's Facebook community reported intermittent power outages in Whitianga, Komata, Omahu, Paeroa, Wharepoa, Thames, Coromandel town, Waikawau, Tapu-Coroglen Rd, Thornton Bay and Waiomu.