Pig of a year for butcher

Last updated 10:17 17/06/2014
Firefighters from Richmond, Stoke and Nelson attended  a large fire at Waterblaster Solutions and Skippers Choice in the Wakatu Industrial Estate, Stoke.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/ Fairfax NZ
ABLAZE: Firefighters from Richmond, Stoke and Nelson attended a large fire at Waterblaster Solutions and Skippers Choice in the Wakatu Industrial Estate, Stoke.

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Ulrich Heck and his wife emigrated to New Zealand a decade ago for "a new challenge", but not this: First an earthquake, then a flood and now a fire.

The Nelson-based German butcher's business has endured three disasters in just over three years. But he is not giving up.

"What does not kill me makes me stronger," he said. "A German without a plan is not a German."

A large fire ripped through the 47-year-old's factory at Wakatu Industrial Estate two weeks ago.

Heck and other business owners had only just recovered from a flood that swept through their buildings in April last year.

In 2011, Heck German Smallgoods had been in a new retail store in central Christchurch for four months when everything came crashing down in the February earthquake.

Heck moved his factory to Nelson after the quakes and was making about a tonne of product a week before the fire.

On May 28, he could see the smoke from his home before his landlord phoned him. When he got to Wakatu Industrial Estate, the roof of his 300-square-metre factory was in flames.

"After six hours, [it] collapsed exactly where my factory was.

"Ten years ago, when we came here, my wife and I said we were looking for a new challenge.

"The earthquake was bad and then the flood came, but fire . . . we cannot top that. Only a nuclear bomb would be more destructive."

Heck said the first few days after the fire were like "a bad dream", because he had lost everything, but he picked himself up again. He said it would take about six weeks to get his business running again, because he had to get replacement equipment from Europe. But he was already looking at new premises in Richmond, which would be "picture perfect" and better than before.

"Life is too short to be unhappy, [and] I am too young to retire."

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