Tapu Te Ranga clean-up continues one month since blaze

By Talisa Kupenga

The clean-up continues at Wellington's Tapu Te Ranga Marae one month since it was engulfed by a fiery blaze.  The Stewart family is still reeling from the loss but remain dedicated to rebuilding their beloved whare.

Pare Sannyasi, the daughter of marae founder, the late Bruce Stewart, says, "We are still brokenhearted and remain devastated at the loss of our buildings at Tapu Te Ranga but we are working hard."

Marae director Dean Stewart says, “We're four weeks into a four-year programme so we're just getting up and running getting everything organised as a whānau and then moving forward from there."

A new addition to the Stewart family, 18-day-old Te Auahi Tūroa Sannayasi, signals new beginnings and pays tribute to the marae they lost.

Sannyasi says, "Her name in English means 'the lingering smoke' but traditionally Auahi Tūroa was one of the sun god’s children, who married Mahuika [the goddess of fire]."

Tapu Te Ranga Marae was engulfed by fire in the early hours of June 9 destroying the ten level complex.

Stewart says, "If it wasn't for the help and support of our community I don't know where we'd be, we'd be a lot further behind.  It's been absolutely amazing, humbling actually the amount of help that we've been getting from the outside."

About $100,000 has been raised for the rebuild so far but it's estimated the overall cost will be millions of dollars.

Stewart says, "We're going through the place now and taking out the material that we can repurpose.  We're also getting prices for when the big demolition clean up comes so we can get that out of the way and get on with the rebuild."

A pre-ticketed hāngi has sold all its 305 parcels for Friday to continue fundraising efforts.