Welcome everyone to the opening of the ANZAC Fire Station. I was thrilled to be invited to be part of today’s opening.
As a former Bexley resident and the MP for Christchurch East with my office in New Brighton, the volunteer fire station was a big part of my life, with the siren being sounded, and the cars soon to be heard whizzing by.
I’ve lost count of the number of Gold Star ceremonies I have been to, and it was always a matter of particular pride to me as an MP to know that the true sign of what makes a community was a feature of this special part of Christchurch.
This station is a composite station, replacing the New Brighton Volunteer Fire Station and the Wainoni Career Temporary Fire Station, which was co-located with the volunteer brigade after the earthquakes.
The station design has been future proofed to accommodate anticipated future response needs to the eastern suburbs of Christchurch. The location is perfect for that purpose - straight onto the state highway - the range is superb.
I did a wee bit of research for today.
For most of its history, New Zealand’s fire services have been funded and managed locally. And it was 110 years ago, in May 1908, that the New Brighton brigade was first called together. The building cost 352pounds -6/-4. This one has cost quite a bit more, even if that sum was couched in today’s dollars.
It was the Ballantynes’ Fire of 1947, where 41 people lost their lives, which led to the passing of the New Zealand’s first fire safety legislation.
I make this point to emphasise that Christchurch has been the catalyst for change as it so often has been.
Today is no different. The volunteer and professional firefighters serve side by side in a station that is named for that moment in our history 100 years ago, that speaks to courage, loyalty and sacrifice, as well as the camaraderie that was once forged on a battlefield. That same courage loyalty, sacrifice and camaraderie is now forged here in this place and to wherever you are called.
As Mayor of Christchurch, thank you for what you do, and I hope you treasure the ANZAC spirit you represent so well a century on.