Tasman district fires 2019

Information and resources to help farmers and animal owners affected by the fires that started in the Tasman district in February 2019.


Latest newsletter update

10.30 am, 21 February 2019 - Day 16

With the last group of evacuated residents now granted controlled access to their properties from today, there are a few things we'd like residents to remember.

When you are able to return home, we're en­couraging everyone to make sure there is a plan in place for your animals should there be a need to re-evacuate. There are also precautions you need to take for your animal's continued welfare.

MPI staff are on call to assess any animal welfare needs arising from the fires. If you have any animal welfare concerns, call MPI on 0800 00 83 33 (option 4).

Animals at the Richmond Showgrounds

The Richmond Showgrounds will be returning to normal from the end of this week. There is now a small number of animals at the showgrounds and we are asking if all owners can pick up their animals by the weekend.

Where this isn't possible, we will work to provide alternative arrangements. If you need support regarding the welfare of your animals, call MPI on 0800 00 83 33, option 4.

Property check

When you are able to return home, make sure accommodation for your animals is undamaged, or at least fit for purpose. The trees or shelter on your property may be damaged too, so check they are safe for animals to use or be near.

Checking for injury

Your animals will likely be stressed and more flighty than usual. If you have had to leave your animals, make sure to check them over carefully. Look at their hooves/pads/feet and udders in particular for injuries and if you think they may have sustained internal burns, or they look as though they are having difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Remove any flammable gear from your animals while the fire risk is still high, especially those with polyester or metal components.

Feed and water

If you are on a Tasman District Council (TDC) reticulated water supply, go to the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board updates page for the latest information on your water supply.

If you are on tank water, do not use it if the smell, taste or appearance is tainted.  

If the water is sourced from a roof, check and clean the roof and gutters of any ash or fire suppressant before using the water. You may need to empty the tank and disconnect the feeder pipe until the roof has been checked and cleared.

  • Check that feeding troughs are safe and filling.
  • Check troughs for ash and debris.
  • Check that water is reaching troughs and is not being lost through damaged, melted or blocked pipes.

Fire suppressant is not toxic but it will taste unpleasant and shouldn't be eaten or drunk. You can wash it off surfaces with soapy water and a brush, followed by a clean water rinse. Any suppressant on the ground will soak into the ground when rinsed with a hose or rain and will act as a fertiliser.

Pigeon Valley rural visits

This weekend, Rural Support Trust and Red Cross will begin visiting Pigeon Valley residents. The teams will be assessing damage and needs in each area as well as talking to residents and handing out the latest information to help in managing your return home and dealing with the fire and drought conditions. It's also a good chance for residents to raise questions or concerns they may have. These visits will be weather-dependent.

If you need to evacuate

If you are asked to evacuate, take your pets with you – if you can do so safely – or take them to a safe place. Do not leave pets in cars.

If you visit a Civil Defence Centre, you can take your pets with you as long as they are in a cage or dogs are on leads. Don't take animals to a marae, as they are not equipped to cater for an influx of animals and wish to ensure they are well looked after at a suitable place.

The Richmond Showgrounds will be returning to normal from the end of this week. If you need support regarding the welfare of your animals, call MPI on 0800 083 33, option 4. We will be able to support you to make other arrangements for your pets.

If you have to leave your animals behind, make sure they're in a safe place (such as a recently ploughed paddock) and well away from any fire risk.

Ensure that any livestock left on your property has sufficient food and water for 2 to 3 days and that they have the freedom to move to water. 

[End of 21 February newsletter]

Keep informed

Previous media releases and newsletters


19 February [PDF, 154 KB]

18 February [PDF, 272 KB]

17 February [PDF, 121 KB]

16 February [PDF, 58 KB]

15 February pm [PDF, 59 KB]

15 February am [PDF, 120 KB]

14 February [PDF, 110 KB]

13 February [PDF, 115 KB]

Media releases

13 February: MPI working closely with response agencies as fire and drought conditions continue

10 February: Animal welfare issues

9 February: Information about the Tasman fires

Civil Defence

For the most up-to-date information about the fires, go to:

Animal welfare

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is working with the SPCA, HUHANZ, the Massey University response team, volunteers, and others on the ground. Animal welfare is our top priority.

When we are allowed to do so, we are working behind the cordon, taking food and water and in some cases evacuating animals. Where possible, livestock are being tended to in place, which is less stressful for them.

If you are concerned about animals, call MPI on 0800 00 83 33. Then select option 4. We are processing these calls as fast as we can, and allocating available crews to accompany animal welfare teams to check on properties. If you are unable to speak with someone immediately, leave your contact details and someone will get back to you.

Many animals are being cared for at the Richmond Showgrounds, where there is housing, food, and water. Animals of any size can be brought directly to the showgrounds to be looked after by volunteers.

People have been visiting the showgrounds to look at the animals. This can be a hindrance for the teams looking after animals and moving animals onto the site. If you don’t have anything to do with the animals, stay away.

Download an information sheet about when animals are affected by fire [PDF, 191 KB]

After the fires

Are you and your animals returning home after the fires, or staying in temporary housing? We've prepared a fact sheet with information to help you. You'll find information for pets, lost pets, and livestock.

Download a fact sheet about looking after your animals after the fires [PDF, 88 KB]

Rural Support Trust for farmers

The Rural Support Trust helps farmers and provides access to networks, services, and government funding following an adverse event to help you get back on your feet.

For farm advice and support, contact the Top of the South Rural Support Trust on 0800 78 72 54. All calls are confidential and free.

If it's an emergency and you're concerned about the safety of people, call 111.

Federated Farmers' Feedline open

Federated Farmers has opened its Feedline to support farmers who have been affected by the fires and need extra feed or grazing for their animals.

Farmers who are short of feed, or who have feed to donate, can contact Federated Farmers on 0800 32 76 46.

Dealing with dry conditions

Find out more

Further Government support announced 14 February – Beehive website

Government support, medium-scale event declared 8 February – Beehive website

After an emergency: How to ensure food is safe

Dry summer management – Dairy NZ website  

Extreme dry fact sheet – Beef+Lamb website 

How you can get help

Adverse events resources


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