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High risk rating for fires ‘not extreme’

MARCUS ANSELM
marcus.anselm@age.co.nz

Wairarapa summer records are not set to tumble, but this weekend is set to be a scorcher.

The mercury should peak at 32 degrees Celsius today and a degree lower tomorrow.

It will fall short of the record 35.4C recorded in Masterton on January 31, 2018.

That was the hottest day since records began in 1906, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

Temperatures remain high throughout next week, although rain showers are forecast as February arrives.

People attending events such as the Wairarapa Country Music Festival at Tauherenikau and Cruise Martinborough should be ready for hot weather.

A westerly breeze is expected today, and some evening cloud, but tomorrow should be a still, warm day with clear skies, MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris said.

It would be cooler by the coast, with 25C forecast for Castlepoint.

The hot spell will have knock on effects.

Fire risks have been moved to high by Fire and Emergency New Zealand and South Wairarapa’s water race stock is low.

Ferris said people should check in with fire fighters on the fire risk status.

Wairarapa is on a high risk rating for fires.

Harry Howard of Wairarapa Tararua Rural Fire District said he encouraged people to get in touch as quickly as possible for a fire permit.

“We’ve been on high [fire risk], which Wairarapa is every summer unless we’re having a particularly wet summer, so it’s not extreme or of particular concern.

“The fire restrictions are in place so we’re asking people to get fire permits.”

Howard said FENZ rarely turned down a permit but said people planning to build a fire should contact the service at least a week in advance, as requests take up to four days to process.

The South Wairarapa District Council has told water race users that levels are low.

The council provides two stock water races, the Moroa Race near Greytown and the Longwood Race near Featherston.

They intake water from the Waiohine and Tauherenikau rivers to provide stock drinking water to surrounding farmland.

The council said on Wednesday that it had reduced flows available to the water races.

Land development work in Greytown’s Kuratawhiti St area had caused a temporary reduction of flow in sections of the water races.

South Wairarapa property owner John Broeren said he had contacted the council after the creek behind one of his Main St buildings had dried up.

He said he had concerns over the fate of wildlife.

“If you lose that, it takes years to come back. We’ve seen how blasé they are about fish at the lake in Carterton.”

Council chief executive Harry Wilson said the move was in line with resource consent conditions.

“Flows in our water races are reduced when river levels are low.

“This is to protect the health of the rivers.

“It varies from year to year but in a dry summer, as we are experiencing now, water race flows are noticeably lower.

“There is really nothing council can do, we have to wait for rain.”

“We encourage landowners to undertake annual maintenance to keep their races clear, as this helps to maintain flows during low flow conditions.”

People seeking places to keep cool should have a range of options.

The cooler weather on the coast will make for pleasant beach trips.

As of Thursday, most Wairarapa swimming spots had been cleared for use by Land Air Water Aotearoa.

This does not include the Waipoua River at Masterton, which Greater Wellington Regional Council has advised not to enter due to toxic algae.

The Makakahi River at Eketahuna has been rated as “caution advised”, also because of algae.

  • For further information on fire permits, visit checkitsalright.nz or call 0800 658 628.