Dannevirke's Jenna Baxter is to feature in a major fundraising event for Australian bush fire victims.

The Fight the Fire Fundraiser will be held on Australia Day, which falls on Sunday, in Palmerston North.

Over the last few weeks 27 people have lost their lives in the blaze that has destroyed property worth millions of dollars and killed around one billion creatures.

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith is behind the Fight the Fire Fundraiser, which will be held at Caccia Birch from about 4pm until 7pm.


The Regent on Broadway has been confirmed as a wet-weather back-up venue and Smith is throwing the resources of Palmerston North City Council behind the event.

"We are a multi-cultural city and have many Australians living and participating in Palmerston North. A number of us have family and friends in Australia and, among them, will be those caught up in the fires or who are on constant alert they might have to be evacuated at any moment," Smith says.

"We have all read about the devastating fires and the toll they're taking on the Australian people or have watched tragic and disturbing images on television. Our hearts have gone out to them. Australia is our neighbour and the best way we can help is by providing funding for the various causes."

Palmerston North is already involved with city council staff, military from Linton and Ohakea, Fire and Emergency and clergy at the flashpoints in Australia.

Many of Manawatū's finest musicians, singers and bands are being contacted and have agreed to offer their services free of charge to support the appeal. Because the event is being held on Australia Day, a Voices for Australia chorus will assemble to support some popular numbers.

Smith says the organisation for the fundraiser is under way and more details will be provided as decisions are made.

He would welcome funding or offers of support from individuals and businesses in the region.

Contributions will be acknowledged from the stage at the event.


The decision to hold the fundraiser was made following a meeting between the mayor, promoter Malcolm Hopwood, his wife Kathi Craig and musical director Roger Buchanan.

Jenna Baxter will be one of the leading artists taking part in the event.

She is currently staying with her parents Brian and Alison. She has been living in Christchurch with her husband and two children but they are in the process of relocating to Palmerston North.

Baxter grew up in Dannevirke and attended Freyberg High School in Palmerston North.

On leaving school she moved to Sydney to study, gaining a Bachelor of Music, majoring in musical theatre. She spent the next 10 years travelling and performing around Australia before returning to New Zealand in 2016.

A highlight for Baxter was playing Rosalia in West Side Story. She was also understudy to Maria, a role she stepped into many times.

Before heading to Australia Baxter performed in a number of musicals on the Dannevirke stage, including the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music and Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in a Feilding theatre production.

At the Fight the Fire Fundraiser Baxter will perform two solo items, a jazz version of Summertime and Somewhere from West Side Story. She will sing duets with Kathi Craig and Douglas Ransom and will perform in a trio with Erica Ward and Amy Hunt-McKenna.

Baxter said she was delighted to be returning to the area to live.

"With having two young children it's great to be close to family and friends."

For Sunday's concert a stage will be erected at a central point of the Caccia Birch lawn and the audience can gather around it or sit in the shade of the trees.

Entry is off Te Awe Awe St and will cost $20 but if people want to give more there'll be opportunities throughout the event.

"I'm indebted to those who've already come forward. I will update people through the media as decisions are made over the next few days," Smith said.