Suspected arson destroys kura’s van
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.
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.