Flame of duty burns bright
Kawerau firefighter saluted for service
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.
Kawerau firefighter Haane Ngatai accepts the award for risk reduction.