Tamahere legacy lives on


Today is a day Tamahere can reflect on other tough times – the 12th anniversary of the Icepak fire that claimed the life of firefighter Derek Lovell.

Derek Lovell
Firefirghter Derek Lovell

The lives of seven other firefighters were changed forever, too, in central Tamahere on a sunny April 5 much like today. Seriously injured were Merv Neil, Alvan Walker, Brian Halford, Cameron Grylls, David Beanland, Adrian Brown and Dennis Wells.

That day, also, brave and selfless locals went to the aid of the seriously injured firefighters with “disregard to their own safety”, as is noted on the plaque at the community centre which commemorates their efforts.

In responding to the Covid-19 pandemic by staying in lockdown, Tamahere people are continuing that legacy of doing the right thing for their fellow New Zealanders.

As it was 12 years ago, medical professionals are in the front line in the fight against Covid-19. But so are many others, most of whom we would never have considered for the role – like supermarket workers and rubbish and recycling collectors.

And those of us staying home are playing a huge part, which for many is coming at a massive personal cost that is and will ripple around our country for years. But we only have to look at the frightening figures charting infection and death rates overseas to know there is no alternative.

Twelve years ago, the firefighters walked into an unprecedented situation – an accident waiting to happen. Today we remember them, honour and thank them for doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

And we can pause and give thought to those who are currently putting themselves at risk to save lives and serve their communities here and around the world – including all of us bearing up under another day of home lockdown.

An archive of stories on the Icepak fire are here.

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