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Mangatangi Volunteer Fire Brigade members were commended for their efforts to help the brigade reach its 50-year milestone. Photo: Supplied

Mangatangi Fire kindles 50 years

A Mangatangi dairy farmer whose hay shed caught fire sparked a rally for a local fire station in 1972.
Fast forward to 2023 and the Mangatangi Volunteer Fire Brigade will burst into marking its 50 years serving the “close-knit” community on February 18.
Chief fire officer for the brigade Steve Pogson told The Profile the brigade reaching the 50-year milestone was something it and the community could be “extremely proud of”.
“Everyone of us who’s in the brigade has joined to give back to the community so personally I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved and what we do on a yearly basis,” he said.
“Fifty years ago a gentleman by the name of Don Shanks had a fire on his hay shed on his dairy farm and as a result of that and the time it took for neighbouring bridges to attend, he felt there was a need in the community to have a brigade.
“He rallied around a whole bunch of farmers and workers in the area and got together and they became an axillary brigade to Pukekohe and that’s how it got started back in December 1972.”

Steve said the brigade, which has 17 current members, wouldn’t have reached 50 years if it weren’t for the support and efforts of its members and founder Don Shanks, who was the chief fire officer until his retirement in 2012.
“The biggest thing would be Don pushed really hard for the speed limit along State Highway 2 to be changed because of the number of fatalities and motor vehicle accidents we were attending,” he said.
“We were the busiest rescue tenure in New Zealand for some years and we most definitely aren’t anymore because the road has changed.
“What we have and where we’ve got is a direct result of Don’s desire to get the brigade to where it is and that’s why he got a Queen’s Service Medal [QSM] for his achievements.”
Steve hoped people would rush to the scene of the first lot of 50-year celebrations at the brigade on Miranda Rd on February 18.
“The plan is to start at 11am and go through to 3pm,” he said.
“We’ve got an old vintage fire truck coming in from Pukekohe, an aerial and heavy rescue tenure come down from Pukekohe, we’re going to have our own [fire] truck there and hopefully Westpac and Police dog handlers will turn up.”
“There will also be face painting and kids activities plus a barbecue for everybody, we’re hoping it will be a full on event well attended by the community.”
Steve said there would then be a plaque unveiled by Coromandel MP Scott Simpson and Waikato District Council Mayor Jacqui Church.
“Then we’ve got a function that night at Maramarua Golf Club where there will be some discussions and guest speakers from FENZ and the ex-chief Don Shanks,” he said.