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Connelly moves to help arson victims

Cordons were in place for several hours on Wards Line after devastating fires ripped through two properties. PHOTO/FILE

A crowd-funding drive for the victims of an arson attack has surpassed $1000 within three days of launching.

South Wairarapa Mayor Martin Connelly said that despite his first mayoral act being well outside his comfort zone, he was pleased with the response to the Give A Little page.

“It is a bit of a learning experience, having never done it before. But it recognises the fact that people want to help.

“In a smaller community, people are keen to support others who have had a mishap.”

In the early hours of October 11, multiple suspicious fires devastated two properties on Wards Line on the outskirts of Greytown.

An investigation by emergency services concluded several structures, including two homes, a sleepout, hayshed, and an implement shed were deliberately set alight.

The residents were sleeping when the fires started shortly before 4am.

The occupants of one home credited smoke alarms with saving their lives, while the second household said they woke to their dogs barking.

A Masterton woman charged with multiple counts of arson, including endangering life, is due to appear in court today.

Connelly said the South Wairarapa community had responded with an outpouring of support and the Give A Little page was set up to meet that demand.

“When people realised what had happened, the reaction was ‘how can we help?’ And someone needs to be in a position of leadership, and it seemed to be me.”

He said he hoped his public position would give people confidence that it was above board and checks and balances were in place.

“It will be a long stressful process. Even if it’s nothing more than a nice holiday, or a meal, there are so many ways in which we could do something positive.”

Connelly said a conversation with one of the families affected, showed they were more concerned for the person accused of lighting the fires, rather than themselves.

“It’s been a long time since I have been in the company of someone who is so badly affected and their thoughts are for the person who is suspected of causing them so much damage.

“It was one of the most remarkable conversations I’ve had. I don’t know if people appreciate just how close these people came to losing their lives.”

Connelly said the page would be online for a month. At the time of print, 12 people had donated $1100.

  • https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/mayoral-support-for-the-arson-victims

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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