Like phoenix, hope arises from ashes

Lake Ohau resident Hugh Spiers has lodged a resource consent with the Waitaki District Council...
Lake Ohau resident Hugh Spiers has lodged a resource consent with the Waitaki District Council today, to begin his rebuild following last October’s fire. PHOTO: RNZ/TESS BRUNTON
When you are faced with a thousand negatives, there is always a positive to be found.

Searching for those glimmers of hope helped Lake Ohau resident Hugh Spiers get through the past six months, dealing with the loss of his home and business in the Ohau fire last October.

Last week another positive came his way, as the concrete pad his former home sat on was removed.

"It sort of felt like a little bit was ripped away from you but you just turn a negative into a positive and now you can see the footprint where the new house is going to go," Mr Spiers said.

A resource consent for his new home, in Lake Ohau Rd, was submitted to the Waitaki District Council today, and he was looking forward to rebuilding his future alongside partner Dwayne Rennie.

They were determined to complete their substantial rebuild, including their business The Barn At Killin B&B, and had already taken a booking for next March.

These days, Lake Ohau Village was humming with activity. House frames were going up, and some were opting to have relocatable homes built off site.

"It’s exciting. I think it’s really positive.

"People are also learning to be a little patient.

"There’s been mixed emotions, but we get really excited to be invited to a house warming."

After being through the devastating fire together — which damaged or destroyed 48 houses — the community refused to let it stop them from rising back up, he said.

"It’s really been quite therapeutic to come out the other side smiling and looking towards the future in a positive light. The fire, as negative as it was, there’s going to be really good things happening."

Mr Spiers, who is fifth generation Ohau resident, and Mr Rennie had been living in their neighbour’s cottage since October. His parents Chris and Rae Spiers, who previously lived with them, were living on their home’s site in a "relocatable home".

Insurance companies had been "bloody awesome" to deal with, and he hoped to hear back from the council regarding their rebuild in the next few weeks.

"The council promised, sort of, a fast-track when it came to consents and fingers-crossed that’s still going to happen."

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