The 13-strong volunteer Pūhoi Rural Fire Force provides its community with the reassurance that, in any sort of emergency, professional help is close to hand. Because while fighting fires is obviously the station’s first duty, it responds to just as many medical emergencies and road crashes. These are the highly-trained (but unpaid) men and women who’d be cutting you or your teenagers out of your car if the worst happened, and stabilising you before the ambulance gets there.
But a ‘station’, is what Pūhoi doesn’t have, unless you call a couple of shipping containers sat just far enough apart for two engines to squeeze in, and an old iron roof across the top, a fire station. Since its inception in 2007, Pūhoi’s fire station has operated out of the yard of fire chief Russell Green’s business Pūhoi River Motors, a bottle’s throw from the Pūhoi pub. While this is all very No.8-wire, it was only ever meant to be a stepping stone until more adequate accommodation for its fire engines, and a training area for their hard-working crews, could be found.
Fire stations don’t come cheap, even when the council supplies the land. So despite an extremely competitive contract for its construction—against the background of a region-wide building boom and materials shortage—and unstinting funding from the Rodney Local Board including sealing the carpark, landscaping the grounds and furnishing the interior), the project will require a further $150,000.
Russell receives lots of well-intentioned ‘you shoulds’ regarding how the shortfall might be addressed, but at this end of a long, hard slog, he says: “I’ve actually got a business to run—the business that pays me; the fire force doesn’t. What we need is for all those who were planning, sooner or later, to make a contribution, to do it now, at Givealittle. It makes it really easy, and you can do it anonymously—or better still, do a shout-out to your mates to beat your donation.”
This got Junction plotting, and soon a mad plan was hatched to bring the fundraising to a head, with a Givealittle-athon, on 5 November—the night when firefighters are traditionally pushed to the limit of their capacity and patience. A riot of rewards is being organised—from accommodation at the crème de la crème of Mahurangi establishments—including the unobtrusively magnificent Tu Ngutu Villa – tea or coffee at the Pūhoi Store, the pub, the Pūhoi Cottage Tearooms or the Pūhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store, to a third-page display advertisement here in Junction. It’s time to get your donations in!
Go to mahurangi.org.nz for rewards details and to donate.