Mauao closed to the public until investigation complete

Mauao - Photo / file

Mauao will be closed to the public after authorities battled to control a fire that spread on the north-eastern ridge facing side of the mountain.  The fire broke out about 11pm last night and was still burning at 6am this morning. 

One of the trustees who oversees the well-being of Mauao says restoring the life force of Mauao will be their top priority.

Authorities have been here since 1am this morning.  But due to safety concerns, the fire service says they had to wait until daylight to contain the blaze. 

Chris Clark (Incident Controller) says, "We've had two helicopters working with monsoon buckets and we've got the vegetation fire under control there are still some areas where there is smoke coming out and that is areas where there is more solid fuel."

Fire broke out on Mauao around 11pm last night.  The cause is yet to be determined.    

Clark says, "It may have resulted from a some kind of activity like fireworks or something like we are not sure at this stage we will be having a fire investigator coming tomorrow who will be looking at the seed of the fire."

Mauao Trustee, Awanuiarangi Black says when he was notified, he was devastated.  

Awanuiarangi Black (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pūkenga) said, "I was very sad, our people, sub-tribes from here are hurting and wounded.  That's how the people are feeling."

Black says the focus now is to restore the mountain's life force.

Black adds, "Here is our strong rock Mauao, over one million people come to him each year, how do we protect it?  But for now, we need to re-establish the life source."  

Mauao will be closed until 12pm tomorrow where an investigation will take place on the cause of the fire.