Fire fuels passion for marae rebuild

Last updated 11:07 25/06/2014

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King Country marae Manu-Ariki may have been destroyed by fire but the spirit of its people still burns hot with the clean-up almost completed even if details of a rebuild remain uncertain.

Founding member, Paul Ropata, said the loss of the marae two weeks ago was great but the community would move past it.

''It is a disaster for us in more ways than one.

''We can't replace any of the artifacts which have been destroyed and we can't put a value on them.

''But we will move past this,'' he said.

The Manu-Ariki complex  was started in the 1960s with the completion of the marae in 1981.

Manu-Ariki was considered one of the largest marae in New Zealand.The cause of the fire, which gutted the marae on June 11, is still being investigated.

The fire claimed marae buildings, Pareruia, Whaatu Kai Maarie, and the surgery.Clean up of the fire-damaged buildings started the weekend after the fire with around 200 people lending a hand, Ropata said.

''We had a really good bunch of young people, 17-18 year olds. I've never seen anything like it.''

Mr Ropata said Manu-Ariki marae's director, Shirley Phillips, wanted to also thank everyone, especially the man with the digger who cleared the heavier debris such as concrete and foundation.

''We are really pleased and grateful to the people who came to help, even those who just came to pay their respects,'' Mr Ropata said. 

A plaque dedicated to one of the marae directors and a carving over the old marae entrance survived the fire.

A week after the fire, the big dirt patch, where the marae once stood, still smells like burnt wood and the grass is scorched black, however people have already been in to clean and repaint poles and replant trees and bushes.

''We have to stay positive,'' Mr Ropata said.''Our director said we can not linger on this, we have things to do.''

Plans for the rebuild will not begin until the investigation is complete, but Mr Ropata said it was too soon to be sure what would happen.

''We need to review the structure, the direction and the future of this complex.

''It may be something different but we are not sure yet. Whatever it is, it will be for the people.''

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- Waikato Times


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