About Pumicelands RFA

Pumicelands is the organisation responsible for issuing fire permits and fighting fires across approximately 2.35 million hectares of land in the Central North Island of New Zealand. Its mission is to protect lives, rural homes, orchards, farms, forests and conservation lands from the damaging effects of vegetation wildfires. 

Main Stakeholders

The following organisations provide the paid and volunteer fire forces:

  • Tauranga City Council
  • Western Bay District Council
  • Kawerau District Council
  • Whakatane District Council
  • Opotiki District Council
  • South Waikato District Council
  • Rotorua Lakes Council
  • Taupo District Council
  • Timberlands NZ Ltd.
  • Hancocks Forest Managers (Tiaki) Ltd.
  • Hancocks Forest Managers (Taumata) Ltd.
  • PF Olsens Ltd.
  • NZ Forest Managers
  • Department of Conservation
  • NZ Fire Service

The District

The District covered by Pumicelands is broken up into eight zones (shown in the map). These are centered around conservation lands (1.05 million hectares), commercial forests (0.5 million hectares) and farmlands (0.8 million hectares).  There are currently around 600 Pumicelands firefighting personnel located at 42 rural fire depots of various sizes belonging to the various stakeholders and associated volunteer groups.

Major transport routes include State Highways and rail links. The district is well serviced by electrical and natural gas supply lines which originate from outside of the region. There are a number of areas of special note in terms of fire threat within the District. These include: residential villages, ski resorts and other recreational areas, prisons, industrial sites, national parks, offshore island reserves and coastal areas, orchards and large packhouses, and transport and distribution networks.

Pumicelands is not responsible for fire in the larger towns and cities. These are Urban Fire Districts where fire fighting is the responsibility of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand and fire permit issue is the responsibility of local district councils.


The Authority

Pumicelands Fire and Emergency New Zealand, as it now exists, was constituted as a legal entity by notice 2015-au3609 in the New Zealand Gazette No. 68 – page 145, 18 June 2015, pursuant to sections 4(1) and 8(1) of the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 (the Act).

A seven member governance Committee, as defined in the gazette notice, is the “Authority”. Under s 8 (2) of the Act the Authority is recognised as “a body corporate, having (subject to the right of the National rural Fire Authority to dissolve that body by notice in the Gazette), perpetual succession and a common seal, and being capable of holding real and personal property and of doing and suffering all the things that bodies corporate may do and suffer:…”

Membership of the Committees is made up as follows:

  • Two members appointed by the CEOs of the Territorial Authorities
  • Two members appointed by the NZ Forest Owners Association
  • One member appointed by the Director General of the Department of Conservation
  • One person appointed by the NZ Fire Service National Commander

The Principal Rural Fire Officer (PRFO), Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officers (DPRFOs) and Rural Fire Officers (RFOs) are all accountable to Fire and Emergency New Zealand. The PRFO (who also functions as Chief Executive Officer), two Deputies to the PRFO (who are both Operations Coordinators and DPRFOs) and the Business Support Person are employees of Fire and Emergency New Zealand. The eight Zone Managers, and Sector Mangers for Opotiki and each of the Sectors of the Plateau Zone are all DPRFOs but are employed directly by stakeholder organisations.

Pumicelands have now gone into Open Season as of 1 May 2019. Fires can be lit in open air without a permit, as long as it is done safely, have permission from the relevant landowner, occupier and MUST comply with the City/District Council and Regional requirements/by laws