: Quick action by firefighters prevented a large scrub fire behind Hungahungatoroa Marae in Matapihi from spreading towards the marae.

The fire was about 120m long by about 50m wide at its worst.

Helen Te Kani, the marae health centre manager, was doing training when she noticed a bit of smoke. The wind picked up at the same time she saw the smoke and she said the plume got bigger and darker.


"It was lucky we were doing the training here and not down the road so we were able to call the brigade instantly.

"They were great."

The fire spread quickly through the undergrowth and she said it was close to coming up the bank and catching the pohutukawa trees lining the edge of the marae grounds.

Firefighters arrived just in time to stop it from spreading into the trees.

"It was a good save," she said. "Our main concern was the marae. It [the fire] could have been huge."

Marae chairman Carlo Ellis said if it had got into the pohutukawa it would have been a real problem because sparks would have drifted towards the marae buildings.

"It was a close call," he said.

Mr Ellis said it was good to have people in close proximity to call the fire brigade."

The prompt action by the brigade also saved a large patch of harakeke (flax) planted by the marae for making kite.

Firefighters had the fire under control but were working to completely extinguish the blaze.


: Firefighters are responding to reports of a large scrub fire in Matapihi.

Fire service Northern Communications Centre shift manager Scott Osmond said the fire was called in at 11.12am and was behind Hungahungatoroa Marae in Matapihi.

Firefighters had described it as large, he said.

Three fire trucks were at the scene of the blaze.

A reporter said smoke could be seen from the Hewletts Rd fly-over.

More to come.