Nelson fires: Wakefield residents allowed to return home

By Te Ao Māori News

Police are supporting the return of Wakefield residents evacuated due to the Nelson fires but say that residential areas of Wakefield will remain closed to everyone except residents until 7am tomorrow morning.

State Highway 6 will also have reduced speed limits through the Wakefield township area until at least 7am tomorrow.

To help facilitate the return of residents police are asking people who don’t have essential reasons for travelling through this part of SH6 to stay away.

Police and the NZDF will maintain a “high visibility presence overnight in the Wakefield area at key locations” according to Acting Tasman District Commander Zane Hooper.

Meanwhile, the civil defence emergency- and risk of re-evacuation- prevails.

“We ask people to not be complacent and that they are returning to an area that is now in a state of Be Prepared to Evacuate,” says Hooper, “This state of Prepare to Evacuate means that at any time until further notice, you may need to re evacuate your property under urgency.”

The process for re evacuation of Wakefield, if this is required in the future, is as follows:

  • A national media release will be issued and the Civil Defence website will be updated.
  • An EMS text message will be sent out to the affected area.
  • The Wakefield fire station siren will sound continuously.
  • Police vehicles will move into the area and their sirens will sound continuously.
  • Police, NZDF and USAR staff will move into the area and commence going door to door to confirm residents have evacuated.

On hearing the evacuate signals, police are asking residents to leave the area in an orderly and timely manner.

Police have stated that any decision to evacuate will allow residents sufficient time to gather their pets, pre-packed personal items before leaving the area.

Government helpline for people affected by Nelson/Tasman fires

Anyone affected by the Nelson/Tasman fires can now call the Government Helpline 0800 779 997.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) helpline is available from 7am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.

Group General Manager Client Service Delivery, Kay Read says people affected by the fires don’t have to be on a benefit to get help from MSD.

"We’re here to offer support to anyone who’s finding it hard to meet urgent costs.  These may include accommodation, food, bedding, clothing and transport.

"You can call 0800 779 997 if you’ve been affected by the Nelson/Tasman fires and would like help, are struggling to support yourself or your family, or you’d like more information about how we might be able to help you.

"If you’re experiencing hardship as a result of the fires, we’re here to help you and we want to hear from you."