The Whatawhata community is mourning the loss of their rugby club building after it caught fire around 11pm last night.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand received an alert about the fire at 11.18pm.
Daughter of club president April Haussman, Hariata witnessed the tragic event with her parents. "We got the call and drove to the club. It was a really bad sight ... it is all gone now, burned to the ground. The most valuable thing we lost are photos, the earliest was from 1920, everything else is replaceable."
She says "quite a few" firefighters were on scene trying to extinguish the fire. "They have done a good job... We don't really know how [the fire] started or who has seen it first. We need to wait for the fire investigators to do their job."
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About 30 community members and members of the rugby club gathered at the scene for a karakia this morning.
"The mood within the community is very somber, everyone is heartbroken. [The club] meant a lot to people... We have been renovating and were still fundraising to finish it off. A lot of work has gone into it within the past year," Hariata says.
The club members are now planning to hold a meeting to decide on the future of the club.
Former club president Stephen Morgan heard about the fire from his daughter this morning. "It's really sad [and] has hit everybody. The whole history of the club has gone up in smoke."