Family of Mihinui Tamiana warn parents to keep closer eye on kids

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

An inquest into the death of 14-year-old Mihinui Tamiana who died in a warehouse fire in Rotorua in 2013, has prompted a warning to parents from her family.

Mihinui’s grandmother, Georgina Tamiana says, “I did try my best that night I asked her, you're not getting up to no good and she said, no Nan I'm just hanging out with my friends, which is hanging out at a party.  Yes, parents have to be more aware of where their children are, where they're going, who there with.”

Two years on from her death, their pain still runs deep.

Mihinui’s grandfather, Wharetuku Tamiana says, “My wife and I went for a whole year every Sunday to the urupa.  That was our day, since she passed away.” 

Mihinui died in the early hours of 2 June 2013, after a warehouse, she and four others were sleeping in, caught fire.

The inquest heard the teenagers were sleeping in an area described as the mezzanine floor, which had no permanent access.

Earlier that evening around 11:30pm, police shut down a party at the venue.

Then at 2:30am in the morning, two teenagers who left the premises earlier, returned to find the building on fire and raised the alarm.

Two petrol-powered generators were situated in the kitchen area, which had no access to ventilation, and were being used to run lights and the DJ's equipment.

Georgina Tamiana says, “There were still heaps of questions we asked and they had no answers, like why they left children there when they broke the party up?  Why they didn't deem it as an unsafe zone with all the petrol that was spilt everywhere?”

Evidence given by Rotorua Detective Sergeant John Wilson and specialist fire investigator Stuart Bootten said four of the teens trapped by the fire jumped 4.1 metres from the mezzanine platform on to a concrete floor.

Three suffered minor injuries and the fourth suffered major flash burns. 

Mr Wilson said Mihinui for some reason hesitated and it is believed she was overcome by the smoke and heat.

Georgina Tamiana says, “That was another reason why I wanted to put it all behind at the inquest, you know we had a lot of bad feelings towards the children, her friends and we wanted to put it all behind at the inquest.  But some of the things there were read out you know, can't let go now.”

Despite unanswered questions, Mihinui's whānau say they want to find peace and remember her as a young beautiful soul.

Police say they hope the Coronial Inquiry into her death, which has still not yet concluded, may assist in providing some answers for the family.

They went on to say, "In investigating any death, the Police's role is to gather and consider all relevant information and evidence available and where there is sufficient evidence of criminal offending, to bring it before the court where appropriate.

On this occasion, there was insufficient evidence to be able to charge anyone in connection with the death.  However, should any new, relevant information come to light, it will be considered by Police."