National | Ngā reo o Taranaki

Ngāti Pātea Kōhanga Reo severely damaged in blaze

Whānau from Ngāti Pātea Kohanga Reo came together in prayer this morning after their building suffered severe damage when it was engulfed by flames early Sunday morning.

Emergency services arrived to find at least quarter of the building had already been destroyed.

Local kuia and longtime supporter of Ngāti Pātea Kohanga Reo, Angie Nuku says, "It's very sad to lose our kohanga, for all the community in the town and all the people in the town, it's very sad."

Two reo advocates, local kuia Yvonne Broughton and Karanga Mitchell of Auckland, inspired the creation of Ngāti Pātea Kohanga Reo in 1981.

Broughton's mokopuna Matewai Katene says, "It [didn't feel] very good knowing [one of] those who had really started the kohanga at Ngāti Pātea was a kuia of mine."

Local Pātea resident Mary Anne Broughton says, "Remembering those who worked to build it, they're all gone they're all died.  They put so much time and effort into it, it was one of our best at that time.  It was a big kohanga reo and so well-run."

Chief Fire Officer of the Pātea Fire Brigade and local butcher Grant Hurley says the building is a write off and investigations into the cause of the fire are ongoing.

"We got the call at 12.30am Sunday morning.  We got there, the whole back end was going for it.  The first crew put that out reasonably fast but by that time it had got into the ceiling so pretty much it was right throughout the ceiling of the building.  So there's a lot of water damage there, a lot of damage in the rafters above so I'll say it's pretty much had it, actually."

Ngapari Nui of Pātea says, "We need to acknowledge the community watch team that was out that night that came across this fire and even the Pātea Fire Brigade and the other fire brigade who came to help in putting this fire out."

Many former students who went on to send their own children to the kohanga are keen to find a solution.

Former student and kaiako Sunnie Kershaw says, "It's awesome to see the whole community come and support us in our time of sorrow.  It's awesome to see and listen to discussions about moving forward.  It's all about our kids."

The whānau are not wasting time, they met with the regional Kohanga Reo office today to discuss and devise a plan moving forward.

For now they have taken up residence at the local youth centre in Pātea.