Foul play 'unlikely' in marae fire - investigators

By Jessica Tyson

The cause of the fire which burned a building to the ground at Wellington's Tapu Te Ranga Marae has not been deemed suspicious.

Lead fire investigator Peter Fox told Te Ao this morning that he does not expect any 'foul play' to be the cause of the fire.

Investigations have been underway since yesterday morning after 70 firefighters worked to contain the blaze which destroyed Pare Waaka, the whare tūpuna ancestral house at the marae.

A number of other buildings were also damaged. 

Marae spokesperson Gabriel Tupou says whānau at the marae have already made plans to rebuild the whare tūpuna.

"We believe that we can rebuild the marae to continue the charitable kaupapa of the trust."

Close to 1,000 people have donated more than $50,000 to a givealittle page to help with the rebuild.

The marae was built in the 1970s and served as a place where unemployed and homeless young Māori could learn life skills and reconnect with their culture.  It was built by people from the local community, led by the late Bruce Stewart who died in 2017.

"It’s really our Tūrangawaewae.  It’s a place where not only we as the whānau stand but also the hundreds and thousands of people who have come through," says Tupou.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.