James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Family seeking answers as fire victim laid to rest

The Holland Rd state house was gutted by the suspicious blaze. Photo / Christine Cornege
The Holland Rd state house was gutted by the suspicious blaze. Photo / Christine Cornege

Grieving family and friends of Wai Matenga, who was killed in a suspicious house fire, will today lay her to rest before seeking answers to her death.

The 37-year-old mother of four died last Wednesday after fire tore through her Hamilton home.

Her body was taken to Hui Te Rangiora marae in central Hamilton on Friday evening where a small number of whanau were gathered.

She was then taken from the marae on Saturday morning to Nga Hau e Wha o Pukekohe marae for her tangi, which will end today with a service.

The Herald understands her tangi was attended by her former partner and their children.

Her brother Colin Chee said her body would be brought back to Hamilton for cremation at Newstead Cemetery after the tangi today.

He said his family and the small number of people who had gathered at the marae were grieving and had been left with little insight into his sister's death.

"We really didn't know anything about what had happened to her except for what we read in the papers and what our nieces and nephews said," said Mr Chee.

He said Ms Matenga was a good mother and a good person. She was the fourth oldest in a large family.

A friend of Ms Matenga, who asked not to be named, said she was a private person who kept to herself but cared for and provided for her children and others.

"She also took care of her sister's children when she passed away. You can't be a bad person if you do something like that. She seemed happy with her studies and how things were in general when I last spoke to her.

"She was a really nice person who I will miss dearly and I'm sure her whanau and children will miss her even more so it would be nice to have some answers."

Police were yesterday continuing their scene investigation at the burned-out shell of the three-bedroom state house in Holland Rd. They are yet to charge anyone.

There were suggestions that Mongrel Mob members were seeking the return of a large sum of missing money they claim was owed to them by associates living with Ms Matenga.

Eight people managed to escape the blaze including two young children, Ms Matenga's niece and nephew, who were saved by a man living at the house who pulled the 3-year-old boy from a lounge window and then re-entered the house to rescue his 1-year-old sister.

- NZ Herald

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