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.

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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.

Deputy principal rural fire officer Clint Lyall explains the day's events to a group of curious locals. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Deputy principal rural fire officer Clint Lyall explains the day's events to a group of curious locals. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Julian Robinson of the Taupo Bay brigade watches the action with two-year-old Raven-Korurangi Te Maru. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Julian Robinson of the Taupo Bay brigade watches the action with two-year-old Raven-Korurangi Te Maru. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Deputy principal rural fire officer Clint Lyall takes a question from a young spectator. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Deputy principal rural fire officer Clint Lyall takes a question from a young spectator. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Scion fire scientist Hugh Wallace with a low-flammability karaka tree and a display of native trees ranked by fire risk. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Scion fire scientist Hugh Wallace with a low-flammability karaka tree and a display of native trees ranked by fire risk. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Broadwood rural firefighters Colin Long and Carol McCready. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Broadwood rural firefighters Colin Long and Carol McCready. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters wait for their chance to board as a Salt Air chopper approaches the school field at Waitaruke. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters wait for their chance to board as a Salt Air chopper approaches the school field at Waitaruke. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters practise boarding a helicopter as it hovers just above the ground. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters practise boarding a helicopter as it hovers just above the ground. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mangonui man Tim Tukariri's beard feels the force of a helicopter's rotor wash while two-year-old Slade Te Maru watches intently. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mangonui man Tim Tukariri's beard feels the force of a helicopter's rotor wash while two-year-old Slade Te Maru watches intently. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaikohe rural firefighter Shivon Gadsby practises alighting from a hovering helicopter while Salt Air's Jake Harnish holds the door open. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaikohe rural firefighter Shivon Gadsby practises alighting from a hovering helicopter while Salt Air's Jake Harnish holds the door open. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters practise filling a monsoon bucket suspended under a helicopter. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters practise filling a monsoon bucket suspended under a helicopter. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters practise boarding a helicopter as it hovers just above the ground. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters practise boarding a helicopter as it hovers just above the ground. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters practise filling a monsoon bucket suspended under a helicopter. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rural firefighters practise filling a monsoon bucket suspended under a helicopter. Photo / Peter de Graaf