Boy killed by Hastings fire named as 10-year-old Ariki Mau
The boy who died after a fire in an abandoned building in Hastings has been named as 10-year-old Ariki River Baden Mau.
Ariki, from the Hastings suburb of Camberley, died in hospital on Tuesday after suffering burns that witnesses say covered him from head to toe.
A second boy suffered badly burnt legs and is recovering in Hutt Hospital, while a third escaped uninjured from the blaze on Heretaunga St on Monday afternoon.
Ariki went to Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga. His teacher, Peter Kireka, said he was a boy who was friends with everyone.
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He was well known in the school, and was good at kapa haka. He was being nurtured into taking a lead role in one of the songs the group was to perform at the national kapa haka festival in Gisborne.
"He was always talking, he was quite a clever little boy, and he had his own opinions about things, even if they were right or wrong."
It was a big shock when the school found out about his death, Kireka said.
"He had lots of friends at the kura; he had friends that were down in new entrants right up to our high school. He was well-known."
Ariki was an independent boy, Kireka said, and would often be seen with his friends in the Camberley neighbourhood he came from.
"He's going to be greatly missed."
There was some comfort knowing the 10-year-old would be with his best friend, who died last school holidays of an asthma attack.
"At least we know he's with his best friend. His best friend was almost the same as him: mischief, but talented."
The death of another student so soon was a blow for the kura, Kireka said.
Mario Overeem, works two doors down from the disused garage in St Leonards where the fire broke out, was one of those who helped pour water over Ariki once he was pulled out of the fire.
He saw others go into the building to try and save the boy, and said he saw one man come out "coughing his lungs out".
"I was checking with him, 'Are you all right?' He caught his breath and took back off into the building ... maybe 20 seconds later he came out with the kid."
Overeem did not know until Ariki was brought out that there had been any children in the shed.
The rescuer sat Ariki up, and he was talking enough to be able to tell them his name and address. "He said he couldn't feel anything."
He was taken to hospital in a critical condition, and died early on Tuesday.
Overeem said he had not slept well in the nights since the fire, as the scene replayed in his head.
"That guy that came out coughing then ran back in, he's a hero all right.
"Unfortunately the kid didn't survive, but he put himself at risk to try and save him."
Staff from the kura were heading to the family's house on Thursday to help support them.
On Tuesday, both the acting mayor for Hastings Sandra Hazelhurst, and councillor Henare O'Keeffe said they had been to offer support to the whanau.
The community had been "pulling together", O'Keeffe said, with a steady stream of visitors through the house.
Police said on Wednesday night their thoughts were with Ariki's whanau and friends, and support was being provided.
The investigation into the fire continues.