Over the last few weeks, 27 people have lost their lives in the blaze that has destroyed property, worth millions of dollars and an estimated billion animals and creatures have perished.
Palmerston North Mayor, Grant Smith, today announced the Fight the Fire Fundraiser will be held on Australia Day (26 January) at Caccia Birch from about 4pm to 7pm.
Smith has confirmed Caccia Birch and the Regent on Broadway, as a wet-weather back-up, have been booked for the performance and he is throwing the resources of the City Council behind the event.
“We are a multi-cultural city and have many Australians living and participating in Palmerston North. A number of us have family and friends in Australia and, among them, will be those caught up in the fires or who are on constant alert they might have to be evacuated at any moment,” Smith says.
“We have all read about the devastating fires and the toll they’re taking on the Australian people or have watched tragic and disturbing images on television. Our hearts have gone out to them. Australia is our neighbour and the best way we can help is by providing funding for the various causes.”
Palmerston North is already involved with City Council staff, military from Linton and Ohakea, Fire and Emergency and clergy at the flashpoints in Australia.
Many of Manawatu’s finest musicians, singers and bands are being contacted and have agreed to offer their services free of charge to support the appeal. Because the event is being held on Australia Day, a Voices for Australia chorus will assemble to support some popular numbers.
The mayor says the organisation for the fundraiser is underway and more details will be provided as decisions are made. Grant Smith would welcome funding or offers of support from individuals and businesses in the city. Contributions will be acknowledged from the stage at the event.
The decision to hold the fundraiser was made last Friday, following a meeting between the Mayor, promoter Malcolm Hopwood, his wife Kathi Craig and musical director, Roger Buchanan. Smith recommended Australia Day, Sunday, January 26, as the ideal occasion to stage such an event.
For about 10 years the popular Wine, Women and Song was held at Caccia Birch, attended by hundreds of people who brought deck chairs, rugs and umbrellas. The same format will be used for the 26 January format. The stage will be erected at a central point of the Caccia Birch lawn and the audience can gather around it or sit in the shade of the trees. Protection from the sun is essential.
Entry off Te Awe Awe Street will be $20 but if people want to give more there’ll be opportunities throughout the event. “I’m indebted to those who’ve already come forward. I will update people through the media as decisions are made over the next few days,” Grant Smith says.