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Future station celebrated – but funding needed

The vacant lot on Russell and Queen St is normally empty, but that wasn’t the case this week thanks to a Wellington Free Ambulance [WFA] community barbeque.

The site is where WFA’s new ambulance station will be built, and accompanied by the smell of sizzling burger patties, those involved in pioneering the project gathered to acknowledge the work done so far.

WFA chief executive Dave Robinson said the station will cement the organisation’s commitment to Wairarapa community and serve as a “generational asset”.

“Paramedics change and save lives with every call,” Robinson said.

“The new station will change the game for not just our services and facilities but also for emergency capability for the coming years.”

Once established, Robinson said he believes the station will serve as an effective emergency hub in times of need.

The new station will be built as an IL4-rated building, which will give it extra structural and technological integrity to be operational during and in the aftermath of a civil emergency or natural disaster.

Robinson said that throughout the campaign for the new station, local support has been incredible but the journey isn’t over yet.

Since January $1.5 million had been raised, half of the $3 million goal, not including the significant anonymous donation of $1 million from a Wairarapa family.

Along with the $3 million of seed funding committed from WFA Trust, the total amount needed for the new build sits at around $7 million.

“There’s still a bit of work, but we’re very well supported,” Robinson said.

“People have turned up and continued to turn up in every way, so just a very big ‘thank you’ from me.”

A specific shoutout was given to Masterton Trust Lands Trust [MTLT], which owns the site and has signed a 99-year ground lease for WFA to build the station.

“It was a significant piece of work from both organisations to get us to this point,” said Robinson, who went on to laughingly observe that “I don’t think it’ll be you or me here at the end of that [lease], but I’m sure whoever it is will have plenty to talk about”.

Also recognised was community ambassador Bob Francis, for doing “a huge amount of work in getting us to where we are”.

MTLT chair Christine Brewster said it’s been a fantastic project to get behind.

“I think we’re very lucky in Wairarapa – we’ve worked well together, and we’re very pleased about it,” she said.

“Once they get started on the build, it will give people something tangible to recognise and see that it’s going ahead.”

Seismic testing of the ground at the site began this week in anticipation of the build.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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