Next time Northland is hit by a natural disaster the region will be able to call on three ex-Army unimogs to move people and supplies through floodwaters and over damaged roads.
All that's needed now is a band of volunteers to drive the donated Mercedes-Benz vehicles and keep them in working order. Currently they are in the care of the Kerikeri Cadet Unit, an army-affiliated youth group with about 20 members in their early teens.
Cadet leader Mita Harris said the unimogs were powered by 5.7-litre turbo diesel engines, could handle rough terrain and travel through water almost two metres deep. The plan was to use them during floods, Civil Defence and search and rescue operations, and "all sorts of emergencies."
When he heard the Army was selling off its 1980s unimogs he enlisted the help of Mayor John Carter and Defence Minister Ron Mark to get a few for Northland.
"We were very lucky to get two. They are a koha, a gift, to the people of Te Tai Tokerau," he said. A third was donated by Summit Forestry.
Mr Harris said he was hoping to take them to marae in isolated communities in flood-prone areas, such as the North Hokianga, to show what they were capable of, but he was also looking for a group of volunteer mechanics to carry out ongoing maintenance, fundraisers and donors to help cover running costs, and ex-Army drivers.
"We're looking for a group of people willing to help look after them and be kaitiaki," he said.
Mr Carter said the donation of the vehicles was a result of Mr Harris' energy and dedication, adding that they would greatly benefit the cadet unit and all other Northlanders in times of emergency.
Anyone who would like to get involved is invited to call or text Mr Harris on (027) 226-1584.