At aged 70, long-serving voluntary firefighter for the Murupara fire brigade, Jack Tupe has had his last ride as a firefighter on the station's truck.
“I know, it's time for me, my body can't do what is needed for this job,” he says.
Jack Tupe was one of three officers at the brigade. Currently there are nine volunteers and four new recruits but fire chief Maera Maki says that Jack played a special part in their station.
“We are a very privileged brigade because there are not many brigades that have a kaumatua and when you go to a fatality he will have a karakia for us bless us before we go home to our families.” Mayor of Whakatāne Tony Bonne also paid tribute to Mr Tupe by saying, “When anybody has done over 25 years of service in the fire brigade and Jack is retiring at 33 years of service and I think that is practically in Murupara where volunteers have been a lot harder to get so he has been a real key to the fire service.”
The location of the station is critical to its success. It covers the Kaingaroa, Murupara, Minginui/ Te Whaiti, Ruatāhuna and Waikaremoana areas. Being able to access remote area's is their specialty.
Hamish Smith, fire area commander acknowledged Mr Tupe for his service “Jack has given a lot of time to the community of Murupara and of late he has been one of the only two drivers this brigade has had so for getting the appliance out to incidents you know they have really relied on Jack and he is leaving some big boots behind that are going to be pretty hard to fill.”
Jack's son is carrying on the tradition for the family as a volunteer firefighter. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father.