End of an era as couple leave dairy-factory home

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2014

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For one South Taranaki couple, a 30 year love affair is coming to an end.

Louise and David Knapman have just sold the former Pihama Co-operative Dairy building which has been used as their family home since July 1983.

Since moving in, the couple have done many of the renovations themselves, including extensive landscaping.

"It really was a labour of love," said Mrs Knapman, whose parents used to live with them before they moved into a resthome last year.

Mr Knapman said his health problems had forced them to re-think their situation, but the decision to move on had not been easy for either of them.

"We've got mixed emotions," said Mrs Knapman, who teaches at Auroa School.

Over the years, they have spent countless hours after work, on weekends and during holidays toiling away on the South Rd estate, where they also raised their four children.

Mrs Knapman said owning a property like theirs took passion and commitment.

"You have to also have a touch of madness about you," she said.

The pair sourced most of their building materials from demolition yards and also milled the macrocarpa trees that lined their section to be used for the re-build.

Now the converted factory and former piggery boasts a mediterranean-style courtyard, rumpus room, two separate living spaces as well as a distillery room where Mr Knapman makes oil from the property's lush lavender plantation.

At one point the couple were even making their own soap.

Mr Knapman said he would miss the garden the most when the couple moved out at the end of February.

They will also miss their pet eel Neil, who lives in the Puneho stream, which runs alongside the section.

The couple are now looking forward to the next chapter in their lives, which will include travelling around the South Island and then on to Europe.

Mrs Knapman said the house sold faster than expected so they are now preparing to move to their new place in Opunake.

However, the logistics of down-sizing from a factory-sized building to a two-bedroom house was not lost on the couple.

"Hence the skip bin," she said.

Do you know someone who lives in an unusual space or place?

We would love to hear from you. Send your name, contact details and a brief description of what makes your place unique to deena.coster@dailynews.co.nz.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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