RSA steps in after pirate ship arson

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Finishing touches being put to the boat before the playground was opened at the end of November.
Finishing touches being put to the boat before the playground was opened at the end of November.

Hastings RSA is donating $10,000 which it hopes will help repair or replace a playground pirate ship which has been wrecked in two arson attacks over the last week.

The ship, in the new Lions Community Park which opened adjacent to Hastings water park Splash Planet at the end of November, was torched on Friday morning and about 48 hours later on Sunday. The council reported later the pirate ship would have to be pulled down.

Soon after hearing of the pirate ship's demise - nine months after a larger playground ship was destroyed by an arsonist in Splash Planet - RSA manager Neil Murphy contacted a Hastings Host Lions Club member to see what the RSA could do to help.

It mirrored community concern about loss of an amenity for children and Mr Murphy said: "We are a community organisation, and we wanted to do something."

Hastings District Council district development committee chairwoman Sandra Hazlehurst learnt of the RSA offer late yesterday and said it is "amazing".

She had already taken steps to start organising a Mayfair gathering, possibly next week, to discuss the latest events and plans for the area. Artwork by Karamu High School students will be salvaged from the pirate ship and will be able to be used in future development of the park, she said.

Meanwhile, police are hoping the community concern will help unveil those responsible for the latest fires, as it had when three youths were apprehended for the Splash Planet fire at Easter last April.

An 18-year-old youth later sentenced to community detention was also linked to other small fires, and Detective Senior Sergeant Marty James, of Hawke's Bay CIB, Hastings, said inquiries into the latest incidents include whether there have been other incidents in the area, including incidents which hadn't been reported. He said some "items of interest" had been found at the scene in the new fenced playground off Sylvan Rd.

"There are probably people who know who the offenders are. As it was last year, it's the public who will have the answers as to who this is."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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