Fortune picks up for stunned family

18:40, Oct 09 2012
Otorohanga house fire
Firefighters battle a house fire in Otorohanga.

Something beautiful awaited the Van Wanrooy family as their dream of a fresh start in a grand Waikato home lay in tatters.

The extended family of eight said goodbye to their Paraparaumu home last Tuesday and travelled close to 500km north to move into a former bed and breakfast near Otorohanga, but they arrived at 796 Kawhia Rd to find fire had ripped through the still smouldering guest quarters.

The stunned family didn't know where to turn. Suddenly homeless, wheelchair-bound Peter and wife Tania had to organise storage for their two truckloads of belongings, their three dogs and three cats, Tania's mother and son Jayden.

Van Wanrooy family
SHOCKING START: From left are: Jarrod Damage with baby Nevanah, Haylee Cummins-Duflou, Kaia and Tania Van Wanrooy, Peter Van Wanrooy and Jayden, in front.

They also had daughter Haylee, her partner Jarrod and their kids Kaia, 2, and newborn Nevanah to consider.

The salt in their wound was a $200 fine for a car left on the roadside due to the numerous fire trucks clogging up their driveway.

Yesterday though, a rejuvenated Mrs Van Wanrooy was strolling through Hamilton with Jayden at her side and a smile on her face.


The seemingly horror start hadn't put them off the region, she said.

''Coming into it like this it makes you realise how good the people are. They're really good up here, but in Otorohanga itself they really did rally around and they were really friendly and helpful. We couldn't quietly slip in because we made front page news with the Ranfurly Shield. If it was going to happen, I'm pleased it happened here and not Wellington.''

''People have been so good - just people saying if there's anything they can do to let them know.''

The shift in fortune didn't take long. The Otorohanga and Waitomo Motel proprietor cancelled other bookings to fit them in and offers to house their pets free of charge came in from people who had read of their misfortune.

Their fine was also ripped up after police heard their story.

Mrs Van Wanrooy's future employer, Trevellyn Lifestyle Care and Village, offered them two cottages to use until they got accommodation sorted.

Fortunately, the insurance company stepped in and paid for temporary accommodation until their Harcourts estate agent Don Pinny dug out a wheelchair-friendly gem of a flat in Ohaupo.

They're still ''tripping over ourselves a bit'' but the rebuild of and repair of their partly destroyed and smoke damaged home are now in the insurance company's hands. 

Still, they had been ''so happy'' to have their own space, own house and everything set up for their kids.

An electrical fault took that away and now it's not going to happen now until christmas, at the earliest.