Just minutes after getting 27 sleepy children out of a smoky marae, the adults who saved their lives looked back to see the place engulfed in flames.

Those five adults’ actions, in the dead of night at Island Bay’s Tapu Te Ranga Marae, “undoubtedly” saved the lives of the 27 Scout cubs, New Zealand chief executive Joshua Tabor said.

Ngaio Scouts group leader Hadyn Nicholls said the adults supervising the one-night marae stay on Saturday night smelled smoke and quickly woke up the sleeping children then got them rapidly out of the marae and up the driveway.

“The building was well and truly engulfed by the time they were down the road.”

The cubs escaped into the night wearing only what they wore to bed. Badges , uniforms , sleeping bags, and clothes were destroyed in the blaze, which also burnt the multi-storey marae building to the ground.
The group made their way to a nearby suburban street and found a home with lights on. The lady there took the entire group of almost 30 in till their parents arrived to collect them in the early hours of Sunday morning.

But some good would come from the cubs’ ordeal. They had been in the marae to earn their Māoritanga badge.