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OIA-14-E-87


16 May 2014


Mr Jordan Williams
Executive Director
New Zealand Taxpayers Union Incorporated
PO Box 10518
The Terrace 6143
Wellington



Dear Jordan

OFFICIAL INFORMATION REQUEST – AUSTRALIAN CONTROLLED BURNING

I refer to your official information request dated 18 April 2014 for the following
information:

(a) How many Department staff, per year, have travelled to Australia for the above
purposes related to controlled burning?

The first opportunity was April 2012 with 25 staff. The second opportunity was
April 2014 with 22 staff.

(b) What was the purpose and total cost of each deployment? Please provide any
material that would demonstrate value for money from each taxpayer-funded
deployment.

The 2012 deployment cost was $133,123.00, minus a financial recovery from
Australia of $67,200.00, giving a total cost for the department of NZD$65,923.00.
Costs incurred for the 2014 deployment to-date sit at ND$39,868.00. We are still
expecting further costs to come in for the 2014 deployment as well as the funding
from the Australian recovery.

Key purposes of these deployments include the opportunity of staff training in the
application of controlled burning techniques. During the 2014 programme sixteen
staff were assessed for Unit Standard 3289 (Carry out hand-operated ignition as
prescribed vegetation burning options; all staff assessed, passed. In addition,
another eight staff were assessed and passed the Unit Stand 3294 – Lad a prescribed
vegetation burning operation). These qualifications coupled with the experience of
being exposed to a severe fire environment form a vital part of the training for New
Zealand Rural Fire Officers. During the deployment staff were able to observe
various levels of fire behaviour, utilise equipment such as chainsaws in the
containment of fire and establishment of fire lines. The deployment also provided
staff an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership ability in high stress situations.


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Detail documents are available which expand further on this summary if required.

(c) How many hectares of prescribed burning does the Department undertake within
New Zealand per year?

Nil. There is currently no prescribed burning in New Zealand.


Yours sincerely,





Damian Coutts
Director Conservation Services
Lower North Island