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The tiny settlement of Waitaruke, on State Highway 10 north of Kaeo, was buzzing with activity on Saturday when it hosted a Fire Fair and helicopter training day for rural firefighters.
The Fire Fair was the culmination of two days of workshops at Waitaruke Marae aimed at raising awareness of the danger of wildfires and what can be done to prevent them, as well as a chance for scientists to tap into Māori knowledge of fire history and behaviour in the area.
The event, which included a kitchen fire demonstration and children's entertainment, was organised by the rural fire research team at Crown forestry agency Scion along with the Māori biosecurity network Te Tira Whakamātaki and Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Meanwhile, on the adjacent Te Kura o Hato Hohepa school field, rural firefighters from around Northland spent the day honing their helicopter skills.
The firefighters, from Broadwood, Cavalli, Kaikohe Rural, Karikari, Maungakaramea and Whananaki brigades, learned about working safely around helicopters, practised getting on and off a hovering chopper and had a go at filling a monsoon bucket.
A planned demonstration burn of 8ha of scrub at Oruaiti had to be postponed until further notice due to unsuitable weather. Photos by Peter de Graaf.