Fire chief’s 33 years with Katikati brigade honoured
Katikati chief fire officer Hatete Joe Manukau is an unassuming man proud of his station, proud of his team and immensely proud of his town.
So when he found out he was being awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community, he was quick to share the honour.
“It’s not about me,” he quietly said from inside Katikati’s fire station in Sheffield St.
“It’s about the team. The guys Iwork with and these guys,” he says, gesturing to the station’s wall of honours, “who passed away”.
“We were the first brigade in the country to have five Gold Stars in one night.”
Gold Stars are prestigious medals symbolising a volunteer firefighter’s 25 years serving the community.
Manukau’s star shines brightly on his chest next to three other medals, including a life member’s medal of the brigade.
“It’s a community thing. [The brigade is] the binding of this community.”
Manukau’s Queen’s Service Medal recognises his 33 years with the volunteer brigade, 16 of which were as fire chief, plus his 40 years as a teacher.
He has also served in several leadership roles throughout Katikati’s community and sports groups.
Manukau said his children and grand children were his motivation. Some of his most rewarding moments included watching some of his Katikati College students come through the fire station’s ranks as young firefighters.
“Two-thirds ofmy brigade aremy ex-students,” he said. “A lot come to seeme in a different light. They seeme as chief. That’s an honour in itself.”
Katikati firefighter Joe Manukau is honoured to receive a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the fire service and the community.