2 Jun 2014

Waka escapes harm in museum fire

4:48 pm on 2 June 2014

A fire at the Waikato Museum in Hamilton damaged carvings next to the museum's prized waka but the 200-year-old Te Winika was unharmed.

Fire crews were called to the building on Grantham Street at 8.30pm on Sunday. The fire was put out by the building's sprinklers and fire crews ventilated the museum to get rid of the smoke.

The fire started on the lower ground floor, threatening the waka Te Winika, which was restored in the 1930s after being buried in mud for 70 years.

Museum spokesperson Lance Vervoort said the waka was safe, though there had been minor damage to carvings near it.

"It's essentially fire damage and it's looks as if, at this stage, it's reasonably minor," Mr Vervoort said.

"We've had our carvers in from Tainui. They've been assessing that this morning. They'll continue assessments over the next couple of days and then advise us what sort of remediation works needs to happen."

The fire is not being treated as suspicious. A specialist investigator will try to find out how the blaze started.