Suspicious fire guts Patea kōhanga reo

5:25 pm on 26 August 2019

An investigation is underway after a fire devastated a kōhanga reo in South Taranaki at the weekend.

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Fire investigators said the cause of the blaze was suspicious.

Four fire appliances were called to Ngāti Pātea Kōhanga Reo on Dorset St in Pātea just after midnight on Sunday.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand said the building was well involved in fire when they arrived.

A spokesperson said that one side of the building had sustained significant damaged, but another side remained unscathed.

The specialist fire investigator has determined that the cause of the fire was suspicious, and it started from outside of the building.

The matter is being referred to the police.

A Ngāti Pātea Kōhanga Reo spokesperson said they believed it was an arson attack, and the incident had put them in shock.

She said it was hard to fathom why someone would set fire to the kōhanga and their main concern now was trying to find another building to operate in.

The kōhanga reo was insured, and they have been receiving a lot of support from the local community.