Yesterday we marked a significant milestone in becoming New Zealand’s first unified firefighting organisation when we replaced an historic split of 24 urban areas and 18 rural fire districts with 17 new Districts and their new leadership structures.

In 2017, the Government decided to unify New Zealand’s urban and rural fire services into one integrated fire and emergency services organisation, to reflect the changing roles of firefighters and the changing needs of communities. Bringing together 42 rural and urban fire services, more than 14,000 people, and many systems and processes, has been a huge job.

Congratulations to those who stepped into a new role this week and thank you to everyone for your mahi over many years to get us to this point.

Our new structure will help us to better support New Zealand communities, while continuing to respond to a broad range of emergencies.

Look Good Feel Better

Last week I was honoured to be guest speaker at a Look Good Feel Better online forum, which connected me with a group of men who are all going through some form of cancer treatment, mostly in the early stages.

Rachael Utumapu, who volunteers for Look Good Feel Better and facilitates these sessions in addition to her new role as Community Risk Manager, invited me to share my story.

As you’ll know, late last year I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was caught early through screening, I had surgery just before Christmas, and the outcome has been very positive. The messages of support at the time showed many of you have been through similar journeys personally or with family members.

I spoke about how it is okay not to be okay, how we need to communicate even more during this challenging time, and how important it is to involve whānau and allow them to take care of and support you – your recovery will be much faster and less stressful when your whānau is an active part of it.

Learn more about Look Good Feel Better’s work(external link)(external link)

Mental Health Awareness Week

When it comes to health and wellbeing, mental health is equally important as physical health, yet we’re still working to overcome the stigma associated with it in New Zealand.

The nature of our mahi means some of our people experience high pressure and unusually challenging situations that others wouldn’t normally experience. COVID and significant organisational change have meant added stress for some.

That’s why this Mental Health Awareness Week(external link)(external link) I encourage all of you to take time out to kōrero about mental health and wellbeing, both with your colleagues and your whānau.

I also encourage you to join Brendan Nally, Kerry Gregory, and a panel of experts at one of tomorrow’s live video conferences (on Wednesday 29 September). They’ll discuss the psychological demands our people face, provide advice on what to look out for, and share reminders about the support options available. You should have received an invite, or you can join by clicking one of the links below:

It’s always okay not to be okay. Please reach out if you need support.


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