Building up brick by brick

by Andy Bryenton

Mangawhai’s fire brigade are moving closer to upgraded premises to assist in their life-saving work in the community, thanks in part to a dedicated group of other volunteers; the Friends of the Brigade — Mangawhai. Their recent ‘buy a brick’ fundraiser has been a sell-out success.

Founded in 2017 by Annie Kitchener and Carol Parkes, the Friends of the Brigade was formed with the intent of fundraising for better facilities for the men and women who serve on the front lines of fire and rescue.

Starting with sausage sizzles and bumper stickers, their efforts and numbers grew with community support. Further smart ideas included a Jazz night, art auction and garage sale. Help came in from the Opportunity Factory, Tara Iti Golf Course fundraisers and a Givealittle campaign, among other generous offers. Then came the recently completed fire brick idea.

The locally designed bricks have proven hugely popular, with one ten year old supporter busking with his violin to donate to the growing wall.

The new Mangawhai Fire Station is in the process of being built and funded by Fire and Emergency New Zealand. A stone wall at the front of the station will acknowledge the fundraising efforts of the community and the Friends of the Brigade. The contributions are funding an engine bay that will house the brigade’s community-funded van.

“Fire and Emergency New Zealand felt they would like to install the wall in recognition of the amazing support we have had from the community through this initiative,” says Carol. “For me, this has been an awesome fundraiser, it has been an absolute delight working with our Chief Fire Officer Robert Leslie, along with some of our community members who have been involved.”