Waka reduced to ash
A Tuakau waka ama club’s dreams of going to nationals in its beloved waka have gone up in smoke after a suspicious blaze early Wednesday morning.
Three precious waka were destroyed in the fire, devastating the Tuakau community. Each waka is believed to be around $17,000. Firefighters were called to the fire in the park on River Rd in the north Waikato town around 5.40am.
The club, Waka Tangata o Te Awhinamai Te Toki ki Tuakau, has more than 150 members which use the waka every day. Team leader of the women’s team, Rosie Walker, said seeing the waka reduced to a pile of ash was horrific.
‘‘It was heart-wrenching, I’m still in shock. We have no inkling (of who has done it) - our club is so humble and loveable, there’s no reason for anyone to have done this that we know of.’’
The Te Toki Voyaging Trust, which the club is a branch of, has donated two waka to use in the mean time, but with regional competitions beginning next month, and nationals in January, Walker said there was no chance of purchasing their own waka by then.
‘‘Hopefully next season we will have new waka. It feels like we’ve lost someone, a friend. We sit in those waka three times a day for three hours by the time everyone has trained. We train every day and we’ve left them there for years and no one has every touched them or damaged them.’’
Walker said the waka were not insured, and would be organising a fundraising committee to help the club get back on its feet.
Devastated locals and club members posted about the loss on Facebook.
‘‘Wow what can i say...I am so lost for words that this breaks my heart of why such a person/s could do this,’’ Pene Cooper posted.
‘‘I hope you are happy with the outcome cause you sure hit the spot. To find out this morning that our beautiful taonga have been destroyed.’’
Another local called those responsible ‘‘low lifes’’.
‘‘How will our kids paddle now, you don’t realise what you’ve done!
‘‘We are all lost for words. How can anyone be so low,’’ Rosalie Ellis said.
The club has created a Givealittle fundraising page in a bid to replace to the waka as soon as possible. Anyone with information about the fire, or who may have seen something suspicious, is asked to call their local police station or phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Tuakau’s waka ama club is devastated after three waka were burnt in a suspicious blaze.
The waka were used every day during the season, by the 150 club members.