A huge fire at Taheke, in South Hokianga, is likely to take
days and cost tens of thousands of dollars to put out.
The blaze started about 12.30pm yesterday near Taheke Rd and
quickly tore through more than 30ha of tinder-dry scrub and
manuka, threatening homes and a pine plantation. Native bush
also went up in flames.
Four helicopters fought the fire with monsoon buckets filled
at a nearby pond, backed up by ground crews from Kaikohe and
A towering column of brown smoke could be seen across the Mid
The fire started in the same area as a massive blaze four
years earlier and where vegetation had only recently started
The cause is still being investigated but a rubbish fire or
arson are the likely culprits.
The blaze comes just two days after the Far North's rural
fire boss ramped up fire restrictions and issued a stern
warning that firefighters would respond to every report of
smoke, and send every fire starter a bill for putting it out.
Deputy principal rural fire officer Lance Johnston said
firefighters were trying to contain today's blaze by
attacking its head and flanks. Their priority was to stop the
fire crossing Moehau Rd into a pine forest.
A bulldozer and digger were brought in later in the day to
cut a series of fire breaks.
It was likely that firefighters would have to stay for
several days. Their best hope was that the cyclone forecast
to hit Northland this weekend would dump enough rain to put
it out, Mr Johnston said.
Just half an hour later another fire threatened Taheke's
Mahuri Marae, a few kilometres away on Ramsey Rd.
That fire was relatively small but started in bamboo and
scrub right next to the marae's outbuildings. Firefighters
from Kaikohe, Okaihau and Rawene, aided by a helicopter
diverted from the Taheke Rd blaze, stopped the flames a few
metres from the whare kai.
Elder Mike Harris said the marae was hugely grateful to the
firefighters and helicopter crew, as well as the locals who
had helped with buckets and hoses.
The cause of that fire was unclear. A group of community
workers had been cutting scrub in the area but had departed
at least an hour earlier.
Already busy brigades were further stretched by a third
vegetation fire about 2.10pm on State Highway 10 near
Earlier this week principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor
announced a moratorium on any new fire permits, effectively
putting the Far North under a total fire ban.
The west coast in particular, from North Hokianga through
Panguru and Mitimiti, was extremely dry.
"It would be extremely foolish to light a fire up there now.
We're going to jump on every fire we see and send an
Big fires can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of
dollars to put out. One helicopter costs about $2500 an hour
- Northern Advocate