Whanganui community rallies together to help whānau in need

By Tema Hemi

The Whanganui community have banded together to support and donate items to a local family who lost all of their posessions to a house fire.

The Uruamo family say they're grateful for the support from kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and local charity groups.

Leaniva Uruamo, mother of six, is still traumatised from the incident.    

Leaniva says, "Panic kicked in when I realised 'I can't contain this fire' and so I said to my boy 'get your brothers out of the house', and I said to my daughter 'run upstairs hun and get Tori, she's still asleep in bed'...so she runs upstairs and grabs her little sister who's still asleep in bed and runs out the door and Isley said 'come on mum, come on mum, we gotta get out, you cant put the fire out mum'."

Within 24 hours the local community banded together to provide support.

Jamie Uruamo says, "The support was overwhelming.  Tremendous support from the community, from the schools, from everyone, from the locals, from Whanganui, even random people just pulling over comforting us and giving us words of encouragement, giving koha, clothes, kai, even opening their homes to us...the awhi and the aroha from the community has been overwhelming."

Leaniva was at home with three of her children when the fire broke out on Wednesday morning.  Her husband Jamie was at work at the time of the incident. 

A local school across the road rushed out to assist the family.

Shaylee Pirere Smith, who organised a lot of the support for the Uruamo family, says, "The staff at Castlecliff school [were] bringing out clothes for mum because she couldn't manage to get any out at the time, you know that was beautiful to see too, people taking clothes of their back literally for this whānau."

Māori MP o Te Tai Hauāuru Adrian Rurawhe says, "I think it's a sign of the support that is in Whanganui for all families, and this whānau in particular.  Its great to see a wide range of support from a lot of different groups, organisations, individuals and families."

The Salvation Army is now in the process of helping the Uruamo family to find a new home.