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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




Recorded histories of fire brigades in the early days of New Zealand are unfortunately very meagre, but from what information there is available it is known that several brigades were in existence 90 to 100 years ago. In Dunedin, for instance, a number of townspeople formed a volunteer fire brigade in 1861. Other early fire brigades were at Christchurch, Wellington, Greymouth, Hokitika, and Wanganui. These early brigades had little official standing and relied on contributions from the public, business houses, and the local authorities for the purchase of their equipment and uniforms. Equipment consisted largely of manually operated pumps, and later, when boroughs were reticulated with water, handdrawn hose reels.


Thomas Arthur Varley, O.B.E., M.I.FIRE.E., formerly Chief Fire Service Officer, Wellington.

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