'Thoughtless morons' torch country kindergarten
The senseless destruction of a Paeroa kindy, the target of a likely arson and burglary attack, has left preschoolers and their families devastated.
A suspicious fire destroyed the Central Kids Kindergarten building on Saturday night, devastating staff, parents and most of all the children who considered it to be a place of safety, learning and loving care.
Central Kids Kindergarten chief executive Jan Ballantyne said though there had been no formal report they had been told the site was now a crime scene.
"A fire investigation team and police worked on the building on Sunday and I have been told someone had broken in through a window, and we are missing a safe which has practically nothing in it, and the building was set on fire," she said.
Police confirmed the fire was suspicious and believed to be linked to a burglary.
Investigators were examining the events of Saturday night at Arney St, Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend said.
"At this stage it appears to be as a result of a burglary where there has been a fire set in some way."
Senior fire communications advisor Michael Upton said four fire trucks and a water tanker were sent to put out the fire, which caused extensive damage to the classroom.
There were no reports of injuries.
The entire building is now a burnt-out shell. The fire destroyed everything, leaving objects a scorched and melted mess.
Even papers and books in the storage cupboard were burnt around the edges and melted together, Ballantyne said.
"Why would someone destroy the children's environment like this? It is the act of a thoughtless moron."
She said the community had been outstanding with their support and good wishes.
There were teary eyes everywhere as mothers and children visited the scene on Monday morning.
Four-year-old Finn Casey said he was sad because the blocks were all burnt down and he couldn't make a stage.
Head teacher Glenys McKain explained, saying Finn was the coolest rocker and the best impersonator of Pink Floyd you've ever seen.
McKain said: "I just love watching him belting out the songs."
Casey replied: "I love Pink Floyd".
"Well, don't you worry, Finn, we will build another kindy and buy some new blocks and you will play Pink Floyd for us again."
When asked how she was feeling, McKain said her tears showed how she felt about the loss of the kindy.
"But they can't take away our memories."
It was heartbreaking, she said, the kindergarten was not just a place of work but somewhere they loved coming every morning.
"Children are a great source of joy and now [the perpetrators] have broken it and I can speak for the team as we all have the same passion and we are all hurting just the same. The support has been marvellous, you can feel the love and support.
"I have had comments from children who are now 19-years-old whose hearts are broken because this is where they came and have such happy memories from their childhood."
Ballantyne said there would be a meeting later this week with parents to let them know where an alternative site was and how long it would take to become licensed.
"We will then be into fundraising for our new building and equipment and to this end we have set up an account at Westpac Bank for people to donate too."
The account number is 03 0418 0194623 00.
Meanwhile, police are also dealing with a suspicious fire on Friday night at an unoccupied house in Huntly.
The fire occurred about 11.30pm at a single level house in Onslow St.
Northern fire communications shift manager Megan Ruru said two crews from Huntly attended the call.