The Paradise Homestead was reduced to ashes and rubble by
the fire. Photo Christina McDonald
''Punched in the gut'' was how Marijke Miller described
hearing that the old homestead in which she grew up and
contained so many family memories had suffered afreak power
surge and was burning to the ground.
The Paradise Homestead, which had undergone a near $1 million
restoration to reopen in 2010, was reduced to ashes and
rubble after the fire on May 23 but a firewall saved the
bedroom wing from total devastation.
Ms Miller was in Invercargill on the day of the fire and
first received an email informing her of a 6am lightning
strike which caused a surge of electricity in the homestead's
power system, resulting in a shock so violent pictures were
jolted off walls.
Power to the house was lost and so, too, was the phone line.
But that was manageable.
''You learn pretty quickly that if there's lightning strikes
you can't be talking on the phone,'' Ms Miller said.
But later, word came that a fire was ripping throughthe
131-year-old category one Heri tage New Zealand-listed
The property had been bought by new immigrant Hugh Miller in
1949 and remained in the Miller family until his son, David
(Marijke's father), died in 1998 and the Paradise Trust was
established to run the property.
''I just felt so helpless,''Ms Miller said.
''I knew that there would be no saving it because of the
length of time that it takes to actually get anybody up here
and being such an old building.''
Having been brought up along with her sister in the house,
been a Paradise Trust trustee, been part of the restoration
and knowing her father's wishes for the property, she felt
‘‘physically'' hit for so many reasons.
The fire spared the pink manager's cottage next door to the
That and the homestead being empty of guests on the night of
the fire were two things to be thankful for, she said.
On the morning of the fire, manageress Mandy Groshinski was
woken by the lightning strike and after travelling to
Glenorchy to contact appropriate people about fixing the
power supply, she returned to find the homestead on fire.