Paradise friends show support at 'Ash Picnic'

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 03/06/2014

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The trustees of a historic homestead that burnt down, in a lightning storm, face a "significant financial challenge", the trust chairman says.

Tom Pryde said the trust's income was also in ashes.

The Paradise homestead near Glenorchy was destroyed on May 23 by a fire caused by a lightning strike on power lines.

"When the homestead burnt to the ground, so did our income. We still have expenses and costs, and are facing a significant financial challenge. We basically lost our only source of income and, as a charitable trust, we have not got a lot of money."

The Paradise Trust held an "Ash Picnic" at the site on Saturday where trustees launched the Friends of Paradise group in the hope of engaging public support and donations, he said.

"It's very important to engage with the community at a local, then national level. We have had hundreds, if not thousands, of messages of support from people all over the place devastated by the tragedy. We want as many people as we can to join Friends of Paradise. It doesn't involve any cost or any commitment to pay money, but anyone who does join is welcome to make a donation of any sum."

More than 100 members of the community came to the picnic, he said.

"Because people love Paradise so much, there is a strong interest to grieve and have their own wake of sorts before it's cleaned up."

The trust had replacement insurance of $1.15 million which had been accepted and Pryde hoped to have another homestead built within the next 18 months to two years.

Planning was still in the early stages, with the trust still getting over the trauma of losing the restored 1883 homestead, but he indicated the trust would "almost certainly not" build a replica.

"To do that is not being respectful to the ancient old building we had. It's gone and can't be brought back ... additionally, it wasn't that functional to modern day needs."

Any new building would still acknowledge the heritage of the site and the trust was in discussion with Heritage New Zealand, he said.

"It will still be pitched at the same people with the same needs. We want the same people to be able to feel they can go there at the same affordable rate."

People wanting to become a member of the Friends of Paradise group and to make donations should visit the Facebook page facebook.com/FriendsofParadise.

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- The Southland Times

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