12 Nov 2013

Investigator wants matches, lighters kept from children

7:32 am on 12 November 2013

A fire investigator wants to meet the parents of two young children suspected of starting a fire that destroyed a meeting house near Whangarei.

Te Uri o Hikihiki at Mokau Marae was extensively damaged by the blaze that started last Friday.

An investigator with the fire service, Terry Baylis, says it's believed two children, aged 3 and 6 started the fire, after being seen playing with a lighter in the nearby kohanga reo.

Mr Baylis says he wants to meet with their parents to talk about fire safety.

He says rather than going there to give them a growling, he wants to educate them about the consequences of fire.

Mr Baylis says if those children had stayed at the marae - the fire service could have been dealing with two fatalities.

He warns all New Zealanders with children not to leave lighters and matches lying around.

A Ngati Wai man, whose father helped raise funds for the whare in the 1970s told Te Manu Korihi news on Friday it was heart-breaking to hear that all the hard work of past generations had gone up in smoke.