Northland locals of Waikara Marae are slowly coming to grips with the loss of their whare kai after it was engulfed by flames.
Jack Taneohaia (Ngāpuhi) says, “It was a big blaze, I stay down in the valley just over here. I was home at the time and a lot of the whānau were on the beach fishing and they saw the smoke from the beach, so they knew something was up. That brought them up.”
The marae is located west of Kaikohe and about 10 minutes from state Highway 12. Fire fighters were late to the blaze because of difficult terrain. However, whānau were quick to act.
Taneohaia says, “By the time the fire brigade got in we had targeted a lot of the big flame areas by throwing buckets of water at it and I'm proud of my family for what we accomplished."
The whare kai was completely destroyed but the ancestral house which stood a few meters away was untouched. Jack believes it was not a coincidence.
"I believe the way we attacked the whole situation I think our tupuna were helping us out here," said Jack.
Fire fighters say the blaze was not suspicious. The cause of the fire is yet to be confirmed but locals are pleased the marae is insured.