Last week, due to the fires in the Port Hills I asked for special leave from my duties in Parliament which was granted. My focus was monitoring the situation with the two fires and our Port Hills residents safety. I spent my time at the Governor’s Bay fire station, the Rural Fire Command Centre in Rolleston as well as the welfare centre at Te Hapua in Halswell, set up for evacuated residents as well as concerned residents. I talked with many people affected by the fires and some who had sadly lost their homes.

I acknowledge the passing of helicopter pilot David Steven Askin (Steve), who was fighting the fires from the air. We think of his family, Elizabeth and two young children Isabelle and Bowie. There is a Givealittle fund for donations to his family and while writing this, the amount raised so far is $147,000

Fire crews worked tirelessly to control the fires as did the helicopter companies and pilots. The community supported them wherever they could with dropping in meals to their stations. My Chris baked muffins & hearty egg & bacon pies for them. The evacuation centres were well resourced with food and other things people may need.

It will remain an active fire zone with ongoing assessments and monitoring . The recent rain will have been of enormous benefit. This was a very difficult time for our residents evacuated, those living close to the situation and tragically those who lost their homes to the fires. If you are affected, please don’t hesitate to contact me for assistance in any way.

I am currently telephoning and visiting those National members who were affected with evacuation to ensure they are ok and if they require any further assistance.

SITUATION REPORT as of Sunday 19 February

  • During the afternoon and evening of 15 February, the two fires in Early Valley & Marleys Hill, merged into one following the significant escalation of the fire.
  • The area of the fire is now 2075 ha. The containment of the fire was confirmed when the fire perimeter was flown on the early morning of the 16 th and again re-flown in the afternoon with no detectable change.
  • Fire ground observers will continue to monitor the area & continue suppression efforts above Dyers Pass Road below Sign of the Kiwi into Victoria Park, in and around Sugar Loaf, the area around Marleys Hill and the southern flank of the fire. These are small areas still smouldering.
  • A significant number of properties are affected.
  • The confirmed number of destroyed structures is 11 houses and 2 large sheds.

My mobile office was stationed opposite Te Hapua and my team were available there to anyone who required assistance. I returned to Wellington briefly on Thursday when the fires were more under control, where I asked the Minister of Civil Defence some questions about the response to the fire.

On Saturday I attended a public meeting that took place with Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Police and the Fire Service who answered questions and updated residents on the current situation.

Civil Defence is co-ordinated by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, but local Civil Defence is led by your city or district council unless a State of Emergency is declared. A state of emergency was finally declared by Christchurch and Selwyn Councils which meant that extra resources from around the country could be engaged to assist.

I will be insisting on a thorough review of emergency procedures after this.

You can see my updates at http://www.facebook.com/nukkorako.PortHills/

and the Canterbury Civil Defence page http://www.facebook.com/ChristchurchCDEM/

Again, should you require any assistance please don't hesitate to contact me: Christchurch Office: 03 384 0008 or Email: nuk.korakomp@parliament.govt.nz

Nuk Korako

National List MP, Port Hills