Flame of duty burns bright

Kaw­erau fire­fighter saluted for ser­vice

Rotorua Daily Post - - Front Page -

Fire­fight­ers from around the re­gion have cel­e­brated suc­cess at their an­nual awards cer­e­mony. Kaw­erau fire­fighter Haane Ngatai was one of seven awardees cel­e­brated by Fire and Emer­gency New Zealand at Te Puia yes­ter­day.

With a 17-year ca­reer be­hind him, Ngatai was hon­oured to re­ceive the risk re­duc­tion award.

“I never re­ally re­alised my­self just how much work I had been do­ing over the years and to ac­tu­ally have some­one ac­knowl­edge me for all that stuff and then read out what I have been do­ing over the years, I’m very hon­oured to re­ceive this award.”

When ac­cept­ing the award, Ngatai thanked his un­cle Eric, who was in­volved in the Ro­torua fire ser­vice for 28 years when one day he was called to an in­ci­dent that was close to home.

“Un­for­tu­nately for him, one night they came to a car ac­ci­dent and I was the per­son in the car that they had to cut out.”

Ngatai was told if he had ar­rived to hos­pi­tal 10 min­utes later he would not be here.

The past 14 years of Ngatai’s ca­reer were ded­i­cated to ed­u­ca­tion through kura kau­papa and ko­hanga reo.

There are about 80 kura kau­papa and 200 ko­hanga reo through­out the re­gion and, while Ngatai has en­gaged with more than 50 per cent, his goal is to get to all of them.

“It has been a lonely job. It has just been me on my own do­ing the mahi. My hope is that in the fu­ture I can get peo­ple to come along and sup­port the kau­papa.

“My next stage is en­hanc­ing te reo Ma¯ ori in our or­gan­i­sa­tion and help­ing to build that in­te­gra­tion be­tween the fire ser­vice and Ma¯ ori cul­ture and the eth­nic groups in the Ma¯ori ar­eas.”

Ru­ral re­gional man­ager John Sut­ton was hum­bled by all of the re­cip­i­ents, say­ing it was im­por­tant to cel­e­brate the suc­cesses of their peers.

“I per­son­ally think there is noth­ing bet­ter than giv­ing ac­knowl­edge­ment for some­one who is do­ing good things.”

The judg­ing panel re­ceived 26 nom­i­na­tions, the high­est num­ber since the awards be­gan four years ago.

Sut­ton said it was be­com­ing dif­fi­cult to cre­ate a fi­nal se­lec­tion but he was pleased it was that way.

“It is im­por­tant for all of the peo­ple within the or­gan­i­sa­tion to see that we share in that good stuff that these folk are do­ing and we want them to be aware that we know about it and we ap­pre­ci­ate it,” he said.

Photo / Stephen Parker

Kaw­erau fire­fighter Haane Ngatai ac­cepts the award for risk re­duc­tion.

Leah Teb­butt

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