Government support for Tasman confirmed

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Civil Defence Kris Faafoi and Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor have confirmed initial Government support for the Tasman community for people affected by the fires.

All three Ministers are in Nelson this morning, travelling to the Emergency Co-ordination Centre where the council and Civil Defence are leading operations, and to the forward control centre where the announcement of support was made.

Jacinda Ardern said that seeing the fire up close was confronting.

“While I’m immensely relieved there’s been no loss of life and want to thank all of those involved in tackling this immense fire, it’s clear there are going to be some difficult times ahead until we get the fire fully under control and people back to their homes.

“I can only imagine how difficult it is to pack up what you can and to evacuate so I want to acknowledge the families who have had to do that – and I want to let you know we are here to understand how we can help in the days and weeks ahead.”

Kris Faafoi said the Government had confirmed an initial commitment of $20,000 to the Mayoral Relief Fund, which has been set up by Tasman District Council. Affected local authorities have significant discretion around how they choose to set up and administer a fund, and around the establishment of disbursement criteria. The funds are in addition to other support that may be available from the Ministry of Social Development, Housing New Zealand and Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Mayoral Relief Funds provide an additional way to help communities get back on their feet after an emergency. Local communities and councils are best-placed to know exactly what they need so this funding can be used, for example, to meet the needs of affected families and individuals, community organisations or marae.”

Damien O’Connor, who is the West Coast Tasman MP, said the relief funding would be welcomed by locals amid a frightening time and ahead of a big recovery.

“I’ve seen extra Fire and Emergency crews arriving overnight and this morning and it’s clear everyone is pitching in to get this blaze under control and keep people safe.

“Animal welfare remains a key concern and is being looked at hourly with the Ministry for Primary Industries helping people to manage stock and vets on standby for any injured animals.

“If you’ve got yourself out and safe it’s important you do not put yourself in harm’s way by returning for animals, as difficult as I know that will be.”

Kris Faafoi says he will stay in close contact with the community, councils and Civil Defence, until the situation is completely under control.

“We know this is a distressing event that has caused massive disruption in people’s lives. All the agencies involved are doing what they can to help and to tackle the fire but we do know there may be tough days ahead as we better understand the effects of the blaze and as displaced residents return to their homes.

“I will be working with my colleagues across Government and local government to ensure we do get the right support for communities where that support is needed.”

Mr Faafoi says the dedication shown by everyone involved in the response effort has been brilliant.

“It’s been really heartening to see such effective coordination between the various agencies involved in the response effort, and to see the community show such great support for one another.

“While there are encouraging signs that the fire is being contained, it remains a potentially dynamic situation and we’re keeping a close eye on conditions.”

Note to editors:

For information on the Mayoral Relief Funds, contact Chris Choat at Tasman District Council on 03 543 7220.