Canada/New Zealand — Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker met today with the Canadian High Commissioner, Ms Penny Reedie, to sign a mutual wildfire assistance arrangement between the Provinces and Territories of Canada, and New Zealand.
“The Canada-New Zealand Wildland Fire Management Arrangement is one which builds on the excellent relationship between Canada and New Zealand. It also gives us the opportunity to continue the proud tradition of international support in wildfire fighting built up over the last decade,” Mr Barker said.
“It will allow firefighting organisations from either country to call upon their colleagues for assistance in the event of wildfire. There is growing recognition worldwide that any individual country can be overwhelmed by a significant event or emergency, including wildfires. It is important that we have strong links and relationships in place before disaster strikes.”
The Arrangement is the third of its kind to be put in place. Similar arrangements have previously been established with the United States of America and the State of Victoria in Australia.
“Mutual assistance arrangements work both ways. New Zealand is able to provide additional capability at times of extreme fire conditions abroad, and can call upon the same kind of assistance if such conditions should arise here.
“Fortunately in New Zealand we do not often face the scourge of very large forest fires. However, the opportunity to work alongside Canadian firefighters can provide our firefighters with invaluable experience. This is the kind of experience that they simply cannot get in New Zealand.”
In addition to the unique training possibilities, the Arrangement offered firefighters the opportunity to operate under a common management system, and to share information, research, and technology.
“Currently 9 New Zealand firefighters are assisting with large forest fires in California. The Canadian Arrangement will add another dimension to this great example of international cooperation and highlights the excellent relationship between our two countries, Mr Barker said.