Trust restoring schoolhouse

The historic schoolhouse in Paradise, near Glenorchy, is rising from the ashes of the fire which gutted it in late July.

A fundraising drive will be launched to meet the cost of the $15,000 restoration project.

The tiny one-room dwelling is being re-created by heritage specialist builder Mike Kingan, of Wanaka, helped by Paradise Charitable Trust co-manager Daman Groshinski.

The project began in earnest last week, and about two more weeks of work will see the house reopened for accommodation by the trust in October.

Despite accepting the virtually destroyed century-old cottage was beyond repair, in the aftermath of the blaze on July 24, trust chairman Tom Pryde, of Queenstown, said yesterday "We're really building a new schoolhouse.

"We've managed to recover some pieces, the floor was largely intact and the chimney and fireplace.

"People love the old schoolhouse, so we're building what you might call a replica."

The structural fire appeared to have been caused by a build-up of heat from the chimney within the walls of the timber cabin.

A young couple from Auckland holidaying in the shack had been permitted to light the internal fireplace, which was also used for cooking.

They were uninjured in the fire, which was a "colourful chapter in the history of the property," Mr Pryde said.

Trustees were working on a strategy which will involve online auctions of donated tourism packages and accommodation elsewhere on the Paradise property. A public appeal for funds was open and would be promoted either later this week or next.

A grand reopening of the new "Old School House" was not being considered, Mr Pryde said.

The smallest of the five cabins near the restored Paradise homestead was used by families working the Paradise Scheelite mine from the early 1900s.