For the past three days the NZPFU National Committee, Local Officials and representatives of training, comms centre and part 4 members have been hosted by the Whangarei Local for the 34th Annual Conference.

The National Committee was intending to also use the opportunity of the conference to map out the latest offer from FENZ with a view to preparing for final negotiations to reach a settlement.  Unfortunately we did not receive a revised offer or position for discussion at Conference.  

There has been ongoing work behind the scenes to boost previous offers to ensure we are talking about a fair and reasonable settlement.  That work has been between the NZPFU, FENZ and the Government and we are continuing to work behind the scenes to try and progress the matter.

In the interim the industrial action remains in place.


The conference was welcomed to Te Tai Tokerau by powhiri lead by Whangarei District management, NZPFU members and administration staff.  It was a special moment that was shared with our international guests United Firefighters Union of Australia (UFUA) National President and Tasmania Branch Secretary Leigh Hills, UFUA Victoria Branch Secretary Peter Marshall, former Australian Senator Gavin Marshall, firefighters occupational cancer expert, IAFF Canadian Trustee and immediate Past President of the Winnipeg Firefighters Union Alex Forrest, Edmonton Firefighters’ Union President Greg Rehman, Winnipeg Firefighters’ Union and former Board member Rob Campbell. UFUA National Secretary and ACT Branch Secretary Greg McConville presented by zoom meeting during the conference.

The Conference benefited from the experiences of the international guest speakers and welcomed the change to learn and share experiences from our global alliance partners.  The value of our active global alliance was evident with the depth of information shared, including the recent developments in the recognition of firefighters’ occupational cancer.  It was a particular privilege to hear first-hand Alex Forrest’s experiences at the World Health Organisation IARC consideration of firefighting after which the occupation of firefighting was declared carcinogenic to humans.

The Conference presented a taonga to Peter Marshall in recognition of his 20 years as UFUA National Secretary and his involvement in the development of the recognition of firefighters’ occupational cancer including the achievement of presumptive legislation in every state and territory as well as federally.  Australia kicked off its campaign with Federal legislation and former Senator Gavin Marshall was instrumental in the Australian Senate Report which formed the basis for the all the Australian presumptive legislation.  He provided the Conference with insight into the political processes.

The Conference unanimously endorsed awarding Honorary Life Membership to Sulu Devoe (previous Auckland Local President), John Waldow (previous Auckland Local Secretary) and previous South Com representative Kevin (Mau) Barbara.  The Conference discussed their significant years’ of dedication in representing the membership from their respective Locals and workplaces.  More detail on the speeches supporting the awarding of Life Membership will be recorded in the Minutes of the Conference.  The unanimous decision to award the life membership was accompanied with a standing ovation for each of the three recipients.

This morning FENZ CEO Kerry Gregory and National Commander Russell Wood attended the conference and a robust Q and A session which was live-streamed through the NZPFU facebook page.  That session can still be viewed here.

We thank the Whangarei Local for all their work and fantastic hospitality which included a hangi on station and ensuring our international guests saw some of the local highlights.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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