June 4, 2023

Muriwai slip: FENZ pays tribute to firefighters who died – ‘We are indebted to them’

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Fire and Emergency has paid tribute to the firefighters who died this week as a result of a slip on Auckland’s west coast.

Two firefighters were checking flooding in a property on Motutara Road in Muriwai on Monday, when the property was hit by another house that collapsed during the widespread winds and rains unleashed by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Craig Stevens was taken to hospital in a critical condition on Monday night.

In statement read out today, FENZ chief executive Kerry Gregory said Stevens died on Thursday night surrounded by loved ones, after “fighting valiantly till the end”.

He said his thoughts and prayers were with his whānau, as well as that of Dave van Zwanenberg – the other firefighter remained trapped until Wednesday, when his body was found on site.

“This tragic incident has been a heavy blow for the two families, their friends, colleagues in Muriwai Volunteer Fire Brigade, and the Muriwai community; and it touches all of us, not just in the Fire and Emergency whānau, but emergency services internationally and all New Zealanders.”

It was an awful reminder of the risks emergency services face while protecting others, Gregory said.

“I endorse our Minister Barbara Edmonds, in that we thank the families for sharing their loved ones with all New Zealanders and we are indebted to them.

“As we mourn them both, we will think of them with pride.”

Gregory also acknowledged all those affected by Gabrielle and others who lost loved ones – as the death toll from the severe weather event stands at seven.

“This is still uncertainty for many of us about what the immediate future holds. Kia kaha, our thoughts are with you all.”


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