News & Press: NZVA news

Bush fires in Nelson/Marlborough region

Wednesday, 6 February 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Erin Henderson
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Update: 11 February 2019

A medium-scale adverse event has been declared for Tasman district. This unlocks further Government support for farmers and growers.

“The wildfire and the drought conditions have combined to make it a particularly tough time for those trying to manage stock and grow food,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Officials have been working with the local trusts, councils, and industry bodies over the past couple of weeks as the dry weather threatened to tip into drought. The fire has further hurt our rural communities with some stock losses, essential access to water restricted, feed destroyed and infrastructure damaged.

“The acute issue is the management of stock where their owners have evacuated their properties due to the fires.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is working with vets, the SPCA, fire and emergency and police to help farmers manage their animals or move them until it’s safe to return."

The Ministry for Primary Industries are coordinating the animal welfare response. They have posted this update on the situation on their website 'Tasman fires: MPI and SPCA animal welfare update'.

Key points

  • Anyone worried about animals in the fire affected area should phone the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on 0800 008 333 (option 4).
  • For the latest updates visit the Nelson Tasman Civil Defence website or the Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Facebook page.
  • MPI is coordinating the animal welfare response and has staff and volunteers on the ground, including transporters, ready to help. They are processing all jobs and volunteer offers as fast as they can allocate available crews to accompany animal welfare teams to check on properties.
  • Animals of any size can be brought directly to the Richmond Showgrounds where there is housing, food and water.
  • MPI is the lead agency in terms of animal welfare response, working with CDEM as the overall event lead, and coordinating the efforts of SPCA, HUHANZ and others.
  • Civil Defence will prevent people without proper registration crossing the cordon, for safety reasons. People wanting to volunteer should phone 0800 008 333 and register with the agencies being coordinated by MPI. 
  • Donations of animal food and supplies to Richmond Showgrounds have been plentiful. All contributions are welcome but at the moment there is no urgent need.

Advice on protecting animals in emergencies can be found on the MPI website. There is an information sheet specific to protecting animals affected by fire. We encourage you to share this information.


6 February 2019

A state of local emergency was declared at 8am Wednesday 6 February in the Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Emergency Management Group area due to the effects of the Pigeon Valley and Rabbit Island bush fires.

The NZVA has a legislated responsibility to support the Ministry for Primary Industries (a ‘support agency’) under MPI’s animal welfare obligations to the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM).

Local veterinarians, veterinary nurses and people from a number of organisations are doing a fantastic job of ensuring evacuated and injured animals are taken care of.

The Civil Defence advice on animal welfare for those in the region is:

Livestock needing to be evacuated due to the Pigeon Valley Fire can be accommodated at the Richmond Showgrounds.

Horses, sheep and goats can be accommodated in empty stables – use the Campground Gate to the Showgrounds and follow the road to the stable blocks. Please leave your name and contact number on the stable door and provide food for your animals. There is water available onsite.

For sheep and cattle please call the contact centre on 03 543 8400 and we can help make arrangements for you to get access to the racecourse oval to accommodate them.

Encourage people to take their animals with them when they evacuate. Livestock can be taken to Richmond Showgrounds

The Civil Defence Centre at St John’s Church, Wakefield remains open. The Centre can provide welfare information and help with accommodation for those who need it. They can also accept pets.

You can follow the situation reports on the Civil Defence website.