Langer ER, McGee TK. 2017. Wildfire risk awareness and prevention by predominantly Māori rural residents, Karikari Peninsula, Aotearoa New Zealand. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 26(9):820-828. doi:https://doi.org/10.1071/WF16133.
Although researchers have learned how fire is used in many parts of the globe, relatively little is known about wildfire risk awareness and prevention activities by fire users. This paper presents results of a qualitative study in the Far North of Aotearoa New Zealand, where fire is used by residents primarily for burning vegetation on rural properties and household rubbish. Semi-structured interviews and a focus group were completed with 25 predominantly Indigenous Māori residents to examine residents’ wildfire risk awareness, fire use and wildfire prevention. Participants’ high level of awareness of the local wildfire risk was due to their understanding of the local environment, past wildfires, attachments to land, information passed down within Māori whānau (extended families), and the local rural fire force. Awareness of the local wildfire risk, attachments to land, and efforts by the local fire force and residents encouraged participants to use fire safely and to abide by and carry out wildfire prevention initiatives. However, there was evidence of fire use contravening fire prevention regulations, including burning during restricted seasons without a permit and in prohibited seasons. Recommendations are provided to encourage safe fire use in Northland and beyond.