More than a century's history has been burned to the ground in East Auckland.
Firefighters were called to a blaze at the Guy homestead in Huntington Park on Ti Rakau Dr at 7.42pm Saturday night.
Five appliances attended the blaze and had it under control within an hour, leaving fire investigators and police to sift through the wreckage.
The property, built in 1898 and formerly part of a 210-acre farm, had become dilapidated and vandalised over recent years and was a known hang out for people sleeping rough.
Fire communications confirmed someone had been seen running from the burning building and the fire had been classified as suspicious.
The little piece of history, sandwiched between commercial and residential areas, was owned by the Guy family for 40 years before it was sold on as farmland.
Howick resident Nick Neben drove past the old building every day on his way to work and six months ago took up the crusade to protect it, after seeing its deterioration.
He said Manukau District Council bought the land and property in 1980 and developed the surrounding area while placing restrictions to protect the future of the homestead.
More recently it was sold to Hong Kong investors, who Neben said "didn't do their homework".
"They bought themselves a bit of a lemon," he said.
Because the building was heavily protected, nothing was done to it and Neben said his campaign for Auckland Council to do something to secure it had been stepped up in recent weeks.
Only days ago they told him they were looking into it.
Neben had discussed plans with councillors to make the land into a park, with the house acting as an information centre or even a council-owned retirement village.
As recently as last week he was approached by a leading architect willing to spend half a million refurbishing and relocating the building, he said.
"We tried really hard for six months - I'm pretty pissed off with the whole thing," he said.
He believed the land, worth $1.5 million with the building, was worth $3.5 million without now the development restrictions would undoubtedly be lifted.
Police urged anyone with information regarding the suspected arson to contact them.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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