Two days of public events this week aim to show Northlanders the danger posed by extreme fires and what can be done to prevent them.
In the first, a series of workshops will be held at Waitaruke Marae, north of Kaeo, tomorrow followed by a demonstration burn of 8ha of scrub in Doubtless Bay.
The fire will be put out by ground-based fire crews with a helicopter on standby if needed.
On Saturday a ''fire fair'' in the grounds of Waitaruke Marae will offer children's entertainment, giveaways, and demonstrations by fire trucks and helicopters using monsoon buckets.
The fair will be open to all and will run from 10am-2pm.
Michael Champtaloup, deputy principal rural fire officer at Fire and Emergency NZ, said the country had been hit by about 3000 wildfires a year for the past three decades.
Wildfires were becoming increasingly common and had caused major damage in Christchurch's Port Hills and the Tasman region in recent years.
''Fires threaten not only our communities and their resources, but also native taonga. Extreme fires are the worst of the wildfires, being more intense, faster-spreading and resistant to current fire management strategies,'' Champtaloup said.
The events at Waitaruke had been organised in a bid to reduce the risk of extreme fires by Fire and Emergency NZ with Crown research agency Scion and Te Tira Whakamātaki, an organisation set up to ensure Māori have a voice in decision-making round New Zealand's natural environment.
"Working directly with our rural communities is pivotal to our effectiveness in the planning and deployment of firefighting resources, if and when the time comes,'' Champtaloup said.
Tara Strand, head of Scion's rural fire research team, said mātauranga Māori — as well as Māori knowledge of the area's fire history and innovative problem-solving skills — could help scientists develop a better understanding of extreme fire and create strategies to protect taonga and valuable sites.
The events are hosted by Ngāti Te Aukiwa and the Waitaruke Marae Committee. Waitaruke Marae is at 867 State Highway 10, about 8km north of Kaeo.
Wildfires around Northland last summer — in particular at Horeke, Wheki Valley, Taipa and south of Kaikohe — cost more than $320,000 to put out.