Muri Whenua will move into a prohibited fire season from 8am on Wednesday 20 December, until further notice.
This means no open-air fires will be permitted in the Far North as the fire danger continues to increase in the area.
Declaring the prohibited season, Fire and Emergency New Zealand Northland District Manager Wipari Henwood says the high westerly winds are already causing “spike days” to occur where the fire danger is hitting the highest level of “extreme.”
“There is a major risk in Muri Whenua of a fire occurring that we will be unable to control.
“This is a very remote area, with the nearest firefighting aircraft more than an hour away.
“As we have seen with recent fires in this area, it takes a number of aircraft to contain and control wildfires in Muri Whenua.”
The most recent large wildfire in the Far North was in March 2023 near Cape Reinga. It took eight days to extinguish at a cost of more than $1.5 million. The fire near Waiharara in 2021/2022 burnt for 50 days at a cost of more than $10 million.
“It’s these sorts of fires which we are trying to avoid by implementing a prohibited fire season now,” Wipari Henwood says.
“We’ve consulted with the Department of Conversation and Summit Forestry, and they both support a prohibited fire season coming into effect on Wednesday.”
The Muri Whenua boundary is as follows: Northern side of State Highway (SH) 10 from Taipa to Awanui, west of SH1 to Kaitaia, west side of Pukepoto Road to Kaitaia-Awaroa Road, north side of Kaitaia-Awaroa Rd to Wainui, west side of Kaitaia-Awaroa Rd Wainui to Herekino, north side of the Herekino harbour.
Anyone who is unsure if they are inside this boundary should go to www.checkitsalright.nz to check if they can light a fire. This tool enables you to check what fire season your area is in, as well as providing safety tips if you are able to light a fire, and access to apply for a fire permit if one is required.