Sus­pected ar­son de­stroys kura’s van

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - TALIA SHADWELL

Te Kura Maori O Porirua saved for eight years to buy its school van, which was torched in a sus­pected ar­son last week that also dam­aged two class­rooms.

The full im­mer­sion school in War­spite Ave has a school roll of 252 pupils, who are due to return soon for the first term of the year.

Prin­ci­pal So­phie Tukukino said she was called out to the school about 1.30am on Tues­day to find the school van ablaze. The fire also dam­aged some nearby class­rooms, and a staffroom wall.

The 12-seater ve­hi­cle was parked on a cov­ered walk­way on the school grounds.

Tukukino said she was sad­dened it had been tar­geted. It was used to ferry pupils to ac­tiv­i­ties and the li­brary.

‘‘We were re­ally proud of be­ing able to pur­chase it. It cost a lot of money – it was a big in­vest­ment for the school.’’

Safety glass on class­room win­dows ap­peared to have pre­vented the fire spread­ing fur­ther, as they with­stood the heat and did not burst.

‘‘We’re for­tu­nate that there was very lit­tle wind [that] night,’’ Tukukino said.

It looked to her as if some­one had tried to break into the van.

De­tec­tive Sergeant Grant Car­roll said po­lice and the Fire Ser­vice were called about 12.50am to the ‘‘sus­pi­cious’’ fire, which de­stroyed the ve­hi­cle and caused ex­te­rior dam­age to a class­room and the staffroom.

‘‘This one-off in­ci­dent has de­prived the Porirua area of a valu­able com­mu­nity as­set.’’

The sus­pi­cious fire was not the first at the school. In 2006, two de­lib­er­ately lit fires de­stroyed four class­rooms.

That ar­son turned out to be the hand­i­work of cul­prits ‘‘with noth­ing to do,’’ Tukukino said.

The school had re­ceived sup- port from the po­lice, the Fire Ser­vice and Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. It was in­sured and hoped to be able to re­place the van and re­pair the dam­age to the build­ings, Tukukino said.

Porirua Fire Sta­tion con­firmed its night shift fire­fight­ers at­tended the call­out, which had been recorded as sus­pi­cious and re­quired four fire en­gines to quell.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion on the crime was urged to call the Wellington Crime squad on 04 381 2077 or call anony­mously via Crimestop­pers on 0800 555 111.

PHOTO: VIR­GINIA FAL­LON/FAIR­FAX NZ

The school van, a glass walk­way and the out­side of a class­room were dam­aged in the blaze at Te Kura Maori O Porirua early last week.

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