A fire believed to have been deliberately lit in the playground of Whakatāne's Apanui Primary School has been labelled "not cool" by pupils.
The fire destroyed the school's senior playground and news the Ministry of Education's insurance scheme did not cover playgrounds, turfs and swimming pools added fuel to the flames.
Principal Simon Akroyd said in his 17 years as a principal, he was surprised he had not known the areas and items were not included in the school's insurance.
"The fact I had not known about it would suggest there are other principals who are also unaware. Although I now know it is written on their website, it is something I think the ministry should make clear."
Kim Shannon, head of education infrastructure service for the ministry, confirmed the playground was not covered by insurance.
"We appreciate the children at Apanui School, and the wider school community will be distressed at the loss of the school playground. Our staff have been in touch with the school since the fire to offer our support and advice," Shannon said.
"All state schools across New Zealand are covered by the School Building Insurance Funding Programme, which covers costs associated with unexpected damage to school buildings."
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The programme did not cover damage to playgrounds and other similar fittings as these were not usually funded by the Ministry.
In these instances, Shannon said, schools could choose to be able to use their own operational or property funding to pay for repairs or replacement. Boards of Trustees may also arrange their own insurance for these fixtures.
"We will continue to support Apanui School as it responds to this incident."
Despite of the lack of insurance, Akroyd said the news was not all bad.
"We've been amazed by the offers of help that have come pouring in and also by the resilience of our students."
The fire destroyed all but one of the wooden and plastic play structures and also burned the bark "floor" of the playground.
"Once we learned we didn't have to wait for insurance assessors it was a matter of getting the damaged things out and the area tidied up as best we could.
"We had people come in to help with the clean-up and we've had businesses and individuals who have said give us a call as soon as you're ready to start the rebuild."
Apanui pupils had also penned a letter to local emergency services which helped to put out the blaze.
As far as a new playground goes, Akroyd said they would take a little time to decide what to do.
"We'll be asking the kids what they want and there are also a few bits and pieces salvaged from the fire that we will incorporate in a new design.
"Students have told us they would like some swings so that is something we could look at."
According to Fire Safety investigator Jon Rewi, the fire was a deliberate act.
"It appears that is the case as there is no other reason it [the fire] would have started," Rewi said.
"There will be an investigation."
Akroyd said CCTV installed earlier this year had provided some "awesome snapshots" of the alleged arsonists.
"We were also provided with two names on the night which we have passed on to police."