Fire and Emergency Services have had a busy morning responding to calls about traditional cooking fires such as hangis and umus.

A spokesman said they had responded to around a dozen calls around Auckland from concerned neighbours that had seen smoke.

"It is not unusual. It is usually because it is in a backyard and some people have little structures, therefore neighbours think it is a building on fire," he said.

Around 110 people had registered their cooking fires with the fire service, and others were encouraged to do so too.


"People tend to ring us and let us know that they are doing it so if a neighbour rings we can say 'oh yes, we have an advised hangi there'," the spokesman said.

"It is better that they ring us so that we have a notified event and if someone rings we know that is what they are talking about.

"It just helps us to know whether we should respond or not, because if we don't have anything in that area and we get told about one, then we have to go and check it out."

He said the smoke generated from a hangi or umu looks similar to that of a rubbish fire.

"People are being proactive which is good too. That is what we are here for."

The Citizens Advice Bureau website states the first thing you need to do when considering a outdoor cooking fire is to check with your local authority whether you will need a permit.

It also suggests correct placement of the hangi pit, for example; avoiding drains, septic tanks or dry foliage, and making sure you work hygienically, purchase safe, approved meat, and store the meat safely.

The Auckland Council website has a list of tips for safe cooking fires, which includes; minimising the amount of smoke by keeping it hot and using clean burning fuel such as untreated, dry wood.


It also advises to keep the fire away from property boundaries and any combustible material such as trees, buildings or wooden fences, dead grass, leaves or sticks, to make sure a responsible adult is supervising the fire at all times, and to only burn in light wind or calm weather conditions.

It is also good practice to have water nearby to put the fire out if it escapes, inform your neighbours, if possible, and make sure all embers are extinguished and safely disposed of.

A full guide to food safety practices in preparing and cooking a hangi can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.