Community support hub loses workshop

WORKSHOP BURNS: Eastern Southern volunteer firefighters at the scene of the Hokonui Runanaga fire on Tuesday, the third significant fire in Gore in recent weeks.
WORKSHOP BURNS: Eastern Southern volunteer firefighters at the scene of the Hokonui Runanaga fire on Tuesday, the third significant fire in Gore in recent weeks.

The Gore community has rallied around the embattled Hokonui Runanga in Gore after fire ravaged its building this week.

The Tuesday afternoon fire destroyed the workshop and ablution block and major damage was inflicted on the dining area of the premises, which provides social support services to the community.

The office block and a classroom were saved by 40 firefighters from Gore, Riverton and Riversdale, who battled the blaze for up to three hours.

Runanga staff believed the fire started in the workshop and may have been electrical, but investigations were continuing.

Hokonui Runanga executive director Terry Nicholas said offers of help had poured in soon after news of the fire spread.

Several businesses had offered to provide storage space and another had offered to provide temporary office space for the Runanga's nine staff until they were able to move back into the building.

The Salvation Army had offered to help run the runanga's services to help the elderly and disadvantaged, he said.

Morale amongst the runanga staff was "down", but they had the capacity to lift themselves, he said.

"We lost a lot of our records, all the historical and business records are lost ... we have to hope they are all backed up on the server."

The runanga would continue to provide services to the community, with Nicholas hoping to have the staff set up in temporary offices within three weeks.

The building, built 15 years ago and worth about $1m, was insured, Nicholas said.

"We would expect to be fully operational again by Christmas."

Runanga maintenance manager Colin Nicholson, surveying the destroyed shed which had been his workplace, said yesterday he was still trying to get over the fact it was gone.

"I didn't sleep very well last night."

The shed contained tools, including an industrial saw, freezer, windows, stainless steel and more, he said.

The runanga's insurer said it was too early to comment.

The fire was the third major blaze in Gore in recent weeks. In April the Livestock Supplies premises was destroyed due to an electrical fault and last week a suspicious fire totalled a building at East Gore School.