Tent fire victim sought simple life

A man who died in a Marton tent fire loved the simple life and planned to grow vegetables over the summer.

His body was found by the owner of a property on Hawkestone Rd in Marton who alerted police about 9.30am on Thursday. The fire was found not to be suspicious following a police and fire service investigation, and is believed to have started with a candle.

The man, whose name has not yet been publicly released, was living in a tent on a lifestyle block owned by Max Varney. He had been living with Mr Varney and his family for about eight weeks after they met through mutual friends.

After moving from the South Island, the man was living in the tent in a paddock and had been working on a vegetable garden.

"He knew what he was doing," Mr Varney said. "He had lots of good plans for things he was going to do.

"He's a really good guy with a big heart, just wanting to live a simple life away from consumerism."

Mr Varney discovered his body when he went to check on him.

He said it was a shock but he was trying to be philosophical about it.

"It's not the kind of thing you want," he said. "That's life . . . enjoy every day because you don't know."

Mr Varney said he and his family were coping as well as could be expected and were trying to carry on. "The farm still goes on, a bit of normality is good."

Mr Varney, who lives on the Hawkestone Rd property with his partner and children, said he planned to keep the garden going in his friend's honour.

A police spokeswoman said they were unlikely to release the man's name until next week, because he had family overseas they had yet to notify.

Manawatu Standard