Gutted homestead will be replaced

Tom Pryde
Tom Pryde
Paradise Homestead, destroyed by fire on Friday morning, will rise again.

Paradise Trust chairman Tom Pryde said last night the trustees were ''absolutely committed'' to rebuilding at the site - but what that would be was not known.

The 131-year-old Heritage New Zealand category 1 building was destroyed by fire following an electrical storm.

Manager Mandy Groshinski was ''emotionally attached'' to the homestead, having made a ''huge contribution'' to the $1 million restoration project, which was completed in 2010.

''She's emotional, but she's strong and she'll be good, but we have got to look after her.

''We don't want her carrying any sense that she's responsible. It was an act of God.''

Mr Pryde said the trust would rebuild ''something'', but it was ''almost certainly'' not going to be an ''absolute, total replica'' of the original homestead.

The trust had its first meeting at Paradise yesterday and had ''far ... bigger issues in front of us at the moment''.

The homestead, which could accomodate 13 people at up to $1200 a night, was the primary source of income for the charitable trust, which operated ''on the smell of an oily rag''.

Without it, there was no income.

''Expenses don't stop, but the cashflow does.

''We are fully insured to the extent that's possible, which is a blessing, but we're not insured for the loss of revenue or anything like that for the place, so we've got some challenges.''

Mr Pryde said he would meet insurers today and while there were ''no issues we're aware of'' that process would take some time to sort through.

A replacement would have to go through a design and consent process, and likely involve the Historic Places Trust.

''In a general sense, we are absolutely committed to doing it right and as urgently as can be done.

''The chance of getting it done before summer, which is our peak season, we think that would be ... a bridge too far.''

Mr Pryde said he had been overwhelmed by the messages of support from people all over New Zealand expressing ''sympathy, shock, horror and willingness to support''.

Although the trust was ''devastated'' at the loss of the homestead, the ''fundamentals'' of Paradise remained.

Until its restoration, the homestead had not been used for at least 30 years and had fallen into ''wrack and ruin''.

''Over that 30-year period [prior to its restoration] people still loved Paradise and still came to visit it.

''In that sense, we've lost it, but the fundamentals of Paradise are still there.''