On 18 December 2021, Fire and Emergency was called to a vegetation fire in Waiharara, Northland. Since that afternoon we have been working alongside the Department of Conservation, our forestry partners, NZDF, Ngai Takoto iwi and the Kaimaumau community to contain the fire and prevent any loss of life or damage to property.

A big thank you to everyone who has been involved in the response effort so far, and to their whānau who support them. Everyone’s commitment and hard mahi is greatly appreciated.

Now in its fourth week, it’s clear we’re responding to a challenging and complex incident. The combination of wetlands, peat, sand and highly variable wind conditions have created a difficult and unpredictable environment and we’re likely to be working in the area for some time to come as we gradually transition from response to recovery. Below, we take a look back across the past few weeks, in images.

20 December: Heavy machinery works on widening a firebreak while the residents of Kaimaumau village spend another day away from their homes, with the village evacuated.
21 December: 10 helicopters work between the fire front and containment line.
22 December: Residents of Kaimaumau receive an update and some gifts on behalf of the Minister of Emergency Management and Conservation, Hon Kiritapu Allan, before returning to their homes in time for Christmas.

26 December: a flare up sees the fire reach SH1, where a member of the public, Charlie, captured these photos from the safety of State Highway 1.

Credit: True to Life Photography

  29 December: USAR drone specialists work overnight to locate hotspots.
  1 January: A flare up of the fire near the village of Kaimaumau sees residents evacuated again. Thanks to Reina Tai for the photo.



2 January: Firefighter Joel Cleaver from Maungakaramea. The heat, wind, humidity and wetland terrain make work challenging. The fire is also burning peat underground, in some places.














The crew take a quick break as a helicopter douses the flames in water.

  9 January: 71 firefighters from across the country are now on the ground and the overall response effort includes personnel from Fire and Emergency, New Zealand Defence Force, Department of Conservation, forestry contractors and a range of other assisting agencies.
11 January: Incident Controller, Nigel Dravitzki, explains what peat is and why it’s difficult for firefighters to tackle in this video posted to the Northland District Facebook page. 
  11 Jan: A wind change is forecast and fire retardant is dropped as part of tactical planning. 
13 January: The fireground, which currently covers around 2400 hectares and has a perimeter of 50km.
14 January: Drones flying overnight detect hotspots through their thermal imaging cameras.

Throughout the incident the local community have shown great support and care for the crews and incident management team.

There’s been a number of food deliveries including energy drinks, cookies, watermelons and even a pavlova and pizza. The pav and pizza from the Kaimaumau community were especially generous as the residents had been several days away from home after being evacuated.

We’d like to thank everyone for their generosity.

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