Fire chiefs have been forced to issue a shame-faced apology after releasing private, personal information in reports into last year's Port Hills fires.
Almost a year since the massive fires on Canterbury's Port Hills above Christchurch, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) yesterday released two reports into the fires that concluded they were deliberately lit, but that their causes were still unknown.
But, chief Executive Rhys Jones today admitted that the reports – released to media and published on the FENZ website - contained personal information that "should have been removed before being made available to the public".
"I'd like to sincerely apologise to the individuals affected by the accidental release of their personal information," Jones said.
"Fire and Emergency takes its responsibility to protect private, personal information seriously. We're contacting all the individuals affected to offer our apologies and have also notified the Office of the Privacy Commissioner."
FENZ say it became aware of the information release this morning and immediately removed the documents from its website. It appears they were only accessed a "small number of times".
"We have today reviewed our processes for the release of information to the public to ensure they are robust and that all documents are properly vetted before being made available. It is disappointing that, on this occasion, we didn't get it right," Jones added.
Anyone affected by the release or who has concerns can ring FENZ directly on 04 474 4810. Alternatively, people can contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner on 0800 803 909.
Any individuals or media outlets with copies of the Early Valley Road and/or Marley's Hill report containing the personal information are asked to destroy it securely. Corrected versions will be made available on www.fireandemergency.nz as soon as possible.