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Plan to stop ‘devastating’ loss of marae

5 December, 2003

Plan to stop ‘devastating’ loss of marae

The Fire Service is launching a new fire safety strategy to help protect New Zealand’s marae from fire.

Fire Service statistics show five marae are destroyed by fire each year.

Piki Thomas, national advisor Maori, says these buildings are historic treasures that have been lost forever.

“We have already had five devastating marae fires this year and the facts are chilling.

“Four of these fires were suspected arson and one of these buildings dated back to 1879*,” he said.

The Fire Service wants to halt this loss and has developed a new strategy to work with Maori communities to protect their marae from fire.

He says the Fire Service has developed new resources including a marae fire safety booklet and presentation video.

Fire Service iwi liaison staff throughout New Zealand are available to visit communities and talk about marae fire safety.

“We urge all marae to install a combination of fire safety systems. Smoke detectors to give early warning and save lives, an evacuation plan to escape a building if a fire happens and a sprinkler system to stop the spread of fire and save taonga,” said Piki Thomas.

The Historic Places Trust supports this fire safety strategy.

Its Maori heritage advisors can help communities apply to the Marae Heritage Committee for funding towards installing a fire safety system such as a sprinkler system.

The launch will be held at Rotorua Fire Station, 11 Biak Street at 10.30am on Friday 5th December 2003.

Month Marae Location Built in Cause Fire damage
April Awhitu House Christchurch 1879 suspicious destroyed
June Rangimarie Marae Poroporo 1946-1969 suspicious destroyed
June Hakatere Marae Fairton 1946-1969 suspicious destroyed
Nov Owhata Marae Rotorua 1900-1945 suspicious 10% damage
Nov Okorihi Marae Kaikohe 1896 unknown destroyed
*Source Fire Service records


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