Support pouring in for Tapu Te Ranga Marae

By Tema Hemi

Support from local communities and people from all over the world has been pouring in after the devastation of the early Sunday morning fire that engulfed Tapu Te Ranga Marae hit the headlines.

Today, Island Bay MP Paul Eagle and Associate Housing and Urban Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta went to inspect the damage.

All that remains are the ashes of once a towering structure named Pare Waaka, known also to some as the 'Tree House'. 

Tapu Te Ranga spokesman Gabriel Tupou says, "It's really like losing a loved one in the whānau and its quite fresh still, especially having buried our koro back in 2017. Only two years later then we lose our whare, our whaea.  We're quite devastated."

In the 1970's the marae builder and designer, Bruce Stewart, was fresh out of prison with $25 and a dream of creating a haven for the dispossessed.  He eventually raised all 13 of his children there and welcomed thousands from across the world into his home.  

Tupou says, "The community are turning up and there's overwhelming aroha, where people are coming and offering help and services, kai and koha and of course our Givealittle [fundraising page] is working its magic. 

"The whānau at the moment are also, we're looking ahead too and having the minister here today is a comfort to our people."

The devastation of losing their home has impacted the whānau enormously and talks with the government of a rebuild are already underway.  

Mahuta says, "They still have before them the strategies to accomplish their father's dream, to rebuild, to build again a home, to build houses for those who have nothing. So in saying that, perhaps the government will have a part to play in the proposed rebuild."

Eagle is also supportive, "I think the whānau will take time and they'll take as much time as they can...they'll pick up the pieces and continue the vision of the late Bruce Stewart and the wider whānau who are really keen to insure that this is rebuilt."

The cause of the fire has not been determined yet but fire investigators say foul play does not look likely.  

Senior Fire Investigator Peter Fox says, "At this point and time we're pretty sure that it was nothing suspicious. There was no deliberately lit fire from what we can make of it so far."

Within 24 hours of the fire, the whānau Givealittle page has already generated over $50,000. 

To donate towards the Tapu Tew ranga rebuild click here.