The couple who fled their "Wild West" lifestyle block in Taranaki after being terrorised by a neighbour are struggling to recover from a $300,000 loss.
The loss of their dream property was compounded when, four days after Elizabeth Shewan and Wayne McIvor packed up and left their Tahora property, a suspicious fire destroyed their Oamaru home, they have told Fairfax Media.
It was not insured.
After a two-day trial in the New Plymouth District Court last month, the jury found the Tahora farmer who sold them the two-hectare property on the Forgotten World Highway for $50,000, Peter John Kennedy, 52, guilty of threatening grievous bodily harm to Ms Shewan in December 2012.
The jury found Kennedy not guilty of assaulting her partner Wayne McIvor.
"It was pretty rough out there," Mr McIvor said of the treatment received from Kennedy.
"It was like the Wild West. Definitely we got the rough end of the stick."
The couple had sold up a lot of property to raise the money to buy the Tahora property.
The aim was to be closer to Mr McIvor's three children who were living with their mother in Stratford.
And by the time they abandoned the venture they were well on their way to turning the wool shed into a home and developing the property as a sustainable lifestyle block.
"We were loving living self-sufficiently. We were going full steam ahead in setting ourselves up. We wanted to teach people to live self-sufficiently. We had lived 12 years off the [electricity] grid," she said.
"I was the gardener and he was the builder. We had a beautiful home and phenomenal amounts of food. We were eating like kings."
Ms Shewan said her conservative estimation of the total cost to them of leaving Taranaki and the fire was between $200,000 and $300,000, even though they had sold the Tahora property for $70,000.
When they fled their Tahora home, they left behind their hunting dogs and animals.
Friendly neighbours stepped in to take over the care of the animals.
"We left on December 19 and on December 24 at 1am we were told our house [in Oamaru] had burnt down."
At the time they were taking refuge with Mr McIvor's brother in Taupo.
Determined to start again, the couple have begun converting a shop into their own second-hand curio, gem and crystal shop in a small community in the South Island.
"We have gone from having a lovely life to working seven days a week. How do you ever make up that sort of loss?"
The couple asked that the whereabouts of their new home not be revealed.
Before the shift to Taranaki, Mr McIvor said he had a 4-acre property in Oamaru which he turned into a self-sufficient unit.
It included 57 fruit trees, solar wind, and acre of market garden and pine trees. He had also converted a Bedford into a house truck.
"It was set up as a self-sufficient unit and they decided to burn it down."
While fire inspectors had found accelerant, the couple were still awaiting a full report from the Fire Service.
- Taranaki Daily News