January 07, 2022
Marae hosts far North fire hui
Wharemaru Marae o Kaimaumau is hosting a Fire and Emergency New Zealand hui for locals affected by the Waiharara fire in Northland this morning.
The information session for residents of Waiharara and Kaimaumau kicked off at 11am but a summary of the key points will be shared on the Northland Fire and Emergency Facebook page after the event.
One of the Incident Controllers, Nigel Dravitzki, members of the response team and spokespeople from other key agencies are updating the community on progress fighting the fire and the longer-term recovery plan.
More than 60 firefighters are now working in hot, tough conditions to ensure the 2,400 hectare fire doesn’t escape its containment lines.
The Fire and Emergency personnel are working alongside staff from the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Defence Force and forestry contractors supported by eight pieces of heavy machinery – bulldozers and diggers – as well as three helicopters.
Incident Controller John Sutton says the crews have done a great job of stopping the fire from spreading but the hot, dry conditions haven’t helped.
“When the fire first started, it stopped when it reached the grass. Now the grass is much dryer and could quickly burn if the fire reaches grass – so it is important we protect the boundary between the fire line and the grass.”
Sutton acknowledges the support from the wider community and Ngāi Takoto as well as the hapū and whānau of Kaimaumau.
He says they’re also thankful to the local orchardists and landowners who have given them access to irrigation water and allowed them to create access ways through their properties.
Sutton says there are several important cultural and ecological sites within the fire boundary and firefighters are focused on protecting those.
“Crews have been working hard to ensure the historical elements of the area, plus the village and farms, are protected from the fire. We also have firefighters patrolling the area at night to help protect sensitive areas.
“A key part of our work is using USAR drones to check for hotspots at night as this helps to focus our firefighting efforts during the day. Drones also allow us to get an understanding of a substantial and complicated fire ground.”
Meanwhile, the Government will contribute $20,000 towards a Mayoral Relief Fund to support those most affected by the fires.
The Minister for Emergency Management, Kiri Allan, says she’s spoken to Far North Mayor John Carter about the effect the fires continue to have on residents and the wider community.
Mayoral Relief Funds provide an additional way to help communities bounce back after an emergency. The funds are in addition to other support that people may be eligible for through the Ministry of Social Development and Ministry for Primary Industries.
“It is still too early to understand the full impact of this blaze but we want to ensure there is minimal delay in supporting those worst affected,” Kiri Allan says.
“While no homes had been destroyed in the fire, there will still be significant impacts on people that will need to be addressed.
“While we are focusing on the most vulnerable at this stage, those who have suffered loss or damage should know the Government will support them where it can and help this close-knit community get back to some normality as soon as possible.”
Donations to the Mayoral Relief Fund can be made online or at any branch of the ASB Bank into the account 12 3244 0022509 04.
Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand update and additional Waatea News reporting