It's a significant investment which could ultimately help save lives - Tūrangi St John Ambulance receiving more than half a million dollars to help with the rebuild of its facility, following new earthquake strengthening laws.

"It's a result of the Christchurch earthquakes where some emergency response buildings collapsed and the vehicles weren't able to respond," said Fraser Lake of St John's Turangi committee.

"We have had to have an engineer's report done, checking that our garaging is up to earthquake standards. We found out it wasn't."

Turangi wasn't the region's only St John branch impacted by the new regulations. It took the Ōhakune branch more than a decade to raise the funds needed to upgrade their building - a long and difficult fundraising process which Tūrangi can now entirely avoid.


"The grant is incredible, in terms of that impact," said Turangi District Councillor Tangonui Kingi. "Because otherwise it would have been a long road to generate that income, not impossible, but it worked out to benefit everyone.

"St John is amongst the critical services. Their role in our community is really important - they provide transport to Taupō Hospital so they need to be based here."

The grant has been given by the King Country Electric Power Trust - the money donated to St John makes up its entire annual distribution.

Fraser Lake on the site of Tūrangi's new ambulance garage. Photo / Nathan Morton
Fraser Lake on the site of Tūrangi's new ambulance garage. Photo / Nathan Morton

The new St John site will include a double garage for the ambulances, and will be bigger than the current building.

"The obvious benefit is in the event of an earthquake, it should be standing for callouts to assist people," Lake said. "Because if there's a major earthquake in this region, ambulances will be required."

With the St John building now in safe hands, the community is turning its attention to future investment in the town.

"It's a beautiful community," Kingi said. "It's had a history which has gone back a long time in terms of its place in the world, but I think it's got a bright future."

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