Wānanga Positive about the Future

Waikanae firefighters carry some of the rescued taonga from the Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa library
Waikanae firefighters carry some of the rescued taonga from the Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa library

There were some “bright sides” to the devastating fire at Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa on January 25, when many of the historic taonga in the library were saved by the firefighters and others, and that the gutted building was not in use at the time.

“It’s an old wooden building. We’re so relieved they saved the library, we were so terribly worried we’d lose the whole building” Mereana Selby, Tumuaki (chief executive) said on the night of the blaze. But sadly it was later found the water and smoke damage was too severe and it will be demolished with the rest of the building.

“Pretty much the all the books are gone, but we got out the important and not replaceable ones,” Ms Selby said. “The extent of the damage is more than we first thought. Now the whole building will be demolished.”

They are waiting on the insurance assessment (of the damage) and the settlement amount before finalising future plans.

The destroyed building was being refurbished and remodelled to allow extension of the library, that would include a student centre and large multipurpose space The new structure to that, had been started to the east of the fire-razed block, and was to be a carved entranceway to the new multipurpose building; fortunately the carved panels were stored elsewhere. This part of the new building will still go ahead.

“We appreciate hugely the care and support from the wider community, the individuals and organisations, it’s not been taken for granted” she said.

“Thursday (February 18) was a very special day for us, students from 10 schools in the Kapiti-Ōtaki region visited Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa and presented koha (gifts usually money) to our whanau. It gives the idea you’re not on your own. We’re very, very grateful to them.”

The razed building was originally from the Kimberley Centre in Levin.