Bravery saved burning pub

By Peter de Graaf

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Rata Moa outside the remains of the Opononi Four Square, on the morning after the fire. PHOTO/PETER DE GRAAF
Rata Moa outside the remains of the Opononi Four Square, on the morning after the fire. PHOTO/PETER DE GRAAF

A Far North man has been honoured for his bravery in helping to save his local pub from a devastating fire.

Hokianga farmhand Rata Moa was enjoying a beer at the Opononi Hotel in June when the owner of the adjacent Four Square came sprinting into the pub, saying his shop was on fire.

Mr Moa, whose 21-year-old son works at the hotel as a barman, didn't hesitate. He climbed on to the hotel roof with a garden hose and kept the flames at bay until firefighters arrived.

He told the Advocate at the time he knew he had no chance of putting the fire out, but hoped he could stop it spreading to the hotel if he could keep the roof cool and the flames down.

The iron on the shop roof was glowing red hot and flames were shooting from a vent, but the hose had plenty of pressure and the heat was not too intense - until the store's roof collapsed. Only then did he heed bystanders' shouts to get down.

"I tried my best. My son works here and I don't want his job to go," Mr Moa said at the time.

Mr Moa's bravery has now been officially recognised with a commendation from the Far North District Council, awarded during a citizens' awards ceremony last month.

Waimamaku kaumatua Goff Rawiri asked the council to recognise Mr Moa, saying the blaze could have spread to the hotel if he had not shown initiative and remarkable bravery.

Mr Rawiri said he had acted despite intense heat and great risk to himself, and believed he deserved more than a free beer at the hotel.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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