Waiheke resident Ron Hopewell is urging locals to prepare for a dry summer following the recent atmospheric change to an El Niño weather pattern, which has often historically been associated with significant droughts in New Zealand.

Ron, a former realtor on the island, says that after watching news of extreme summer temperatures in the northern hemisphere and wildfires raging across Greece, he fears the devastating scenes could be replicated on the island this summer.

“After seeing the northern summer, I got a feeling that it could follow here. I particularly thought of the island, which has been my home for a long time,” says Ron. “So I thought, how many fire trucks do we have on the island? How many ambulances?”

Ron worries the island isn’t equipped for a potential large-scale bushfire or an imminent evacuation similar to those required in Greece in July and again on the Hawaiian island of Maui this month – especially during the summer when tourism is at its highest peak.

 • Silvia Massa

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