Mayoral relief fund for Waiharara Fire

Published on 04 January 2022

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Far North Mayor, John Carter, has established a Mayoral relief fund to assist people affected by the large scrub fire at Waiharara about 20km north of Kaitāia.

Mayor Carter has been closely monitoring the fire since it started in mid-December and has visited the fire ground on numerous occasions with Councillor David Collard to liaise with emergency services and the community. While firefighters have held the fire within containment lines, conditions remain challenging and Kaimaumau residents were forced to leave their homes for a second time on Saturday.

Mayor Carter says, while no homes have been destroyed by the fire, people have been impacted in other ways. “The fire is the biggest in the region in more than a decade and there have been reports of ash falling on properties up to 50 km from the fire ground. While the full cost of the fire is still unknown, it is likely that there will be a range of financial impacts on people not just at Waiharara and Kaimaumau, but in nearby communities including Houhora and Rangiputa.”

He is getting enquiries from people wanting to support the Waiharara community. “I am establishing a Waiharara Fire Mayoral Relief Fund to allow people to donate money which will be distributed by the Council in conjunction with a community governance group that includes residents, hapū, iwi, Civil Defence and Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel. There will be a $1,000 cap on how much individuals can claim. However, we will exercise some flexibility and discretion around this limit.”

The Mayor will donate to the fund and invite other Mayors around the country to do the same. The Council is also considering how it might show its appreciation of the volunteer firefighters and others who have fought the fire or rallied to support residents. “We are incredibly grateful for the work of the fire service, helicopter pilots and support crews, Police, Civil Defence, DOC, the Kaimaumau Community Response Group, community volunteers and Ngāi Takoto. A lot of people have worked for long hours in uncomfortable conditions at a time of year when they would normally be enjoying Christmas with their families. I and Deputy Mayor, Ann Court, will be looking into how we can recognise this extraordinary and selfless effort.”

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) Incident Controller, John Sutton, says the Waiharara fire has been a tough, exhausting and significant fire. FENZ personnel, as well as those from partner agencies, are grateful for the support they have received from the community. “We understand this fire will continue to affect them for a significant period of time, and we will continue to think about its impact on them and the wider community,” Mr Sutton says.

The Council has established Mayoral relief funds in response to other disasters and emergencies, including a storm in 2020 and a fire that resulted in two deaths at Karikari Peninsula in 2011. “Some people can’t afford insurance or don’t have the money to pay the excess on a claim for damaged property or other unbudgeted expenses. Receiving a grant from a Mayoral relief fund can make a big difference to how quickly they are able to recover from a disaster.”

People wishing to donate to the fund can make payments online or at any ASB Bank branch by quoting account number 12 3244 0022509 04. People wishing to apply to the fund can download an application form(PDF, 165KB) or email the Mayor’s office at John.Carter@fndc.govt.nz.