Minister Ron Mark asks NZDF to conduct fire risk assessment from defence point of view

Defence Minister Ron Mark said there was nothing to prevent similar large-scale bushfires seen in Australia from also happening in New Zealand, and has asked the New Zealand Defence Force to conduct a nfire risk assessment from a defence point of view.

The defence assessment would help prevent a disaster similar to Australia’s, and the Minister said he had ordered the assessment shortly before Christmas.

"New Zealand needs to look closely at what's happening in Australia. We need to start some forward-thinking and forward planning for our own sakes,” Minister Mark said.

He also said he was concerned by a trend of fires on New Zealand's East Coast.

In Hawke's Bay, dozens of firefighters are battling a contained blaze north of Napier spanning 350 hectares of pine forest. Elsewhere, Fire and Emergency on Wednesday issued an extreme fire warning for Central Otago.

The Defence Force had already said it was deploying three helicopters and two groups of combat engineers to Australia to help battle the bush fires. That is in addition to the twenty-one firefighters from around New Zealand who will be deployed east of Canberra to assist Australian counterparts.

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