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Tapu-te-Ranga spokesperson says whānau are 'determined to rebuild the marae'

A much-loved Wellington marae burned to the ground overnight with 36 people including 27 young cub Scouts lucky to escape from inside.

Two families living on the property lost everything with their home engulfed in the blaze.

Nearby homes were also evacuated as 70 firefighters and 19 appliances were deployed to Wellington's iconic Tupa-te-Ranga marae to extinguish a well-involved fire in the early hours this morning.

The marae has thanked emergency services for their swift response but are "devastated" by the damage.

A family who lived on the site lost everything but managed to escape with their one-year-old baby.

Those staying at the marae luckily escaped and were all accounted for.

The scouts and their leaders say they took refuge at a neighbour's house.

"If it wasn't for the leaders this would be an absolute tragedy," Ngaio Scout Hadyn Nicholls told 1 NEWS.

The 50-metre high marae collapsed around midnight and while one of the three meeting houses managed to survive the fire, many taonga were lost.

"We've lost some personal family items, photos of our tupuna, and other valuable artworks. but I reiterate that it is the people that make the marae, that bring it to life," Tapu-te-Ranga spokesperson Gabriel Tupou says.

"The passion that the whanau and the community have for our whare is still strong as ever. We've lost a building, but we haven't lost its soul."

The marae was built in the 1970s by former prisoners, homeless youth and troubled youth, using mostly recycled materials.

A Give-a-Little page has been set up to help rebuild the fallen marae.

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Dozens of people were asleep inside the Marae when it went up in flames. Source: 1 NEWS