If not for a marae in Hamilton, 47 tourists would have been left cold hungry and tired in the dead of the night after a fire took hold of their place for the night.
Central Backpackers on Hamilton’s Victoria Street had to be evacuated once flames emerged from the basement at around 10 pm earlier this week. With almost five dozen travellers essentially homeless, Gloria Dornan, head of the Kirikiriroa Māori Wardens, rang Hui Te Rangiora Marae.
Waking from his sleep to pick up the phone was Dennis Rangi, the marae’s caretaker. Dennis did not hesitate to give the stranded a place to stay. As soon as he could, he opened the doors and provided beds and a hot cup of tea for all.
NZ Police Senior Sergeant Chris McRae applauded both Dornan and Rangi for stepping up when help was desperately needed.
“Without Dennis and Gloria, we would still be looking for a place for the tourists to sleep," he told Newshub.
“We had 46-48 tourists standing on the footpath with nowhere to go at midnight while the fire was being put out and they could not return. The hostel looks like it will be shut for some time now due to damage.”
Comments on a Facebook post about the matter see it as a story that shows what the marae is really about.
“The true meaning of Manakitanga at its finest like always it is the local Marae that steps up when people are in need,” said one commenter. “What an awesome experience for our visitors to have a true cultural experience they will never forget.”
“Where would we be without our marae. Absolute legends! Everytime, kia ora,” another wrote.
“No Questions asked! Maraes are always ready,” a third added.
“For me, marae symbolise inclusivity at its best,” one more said.