Chele Clarkin's new adventure after fire destroyed her Waikato home

Chele Clarkin and her dog Nemo at their new home on Tarr Road.

Chele Clarkin and her dog Nemo at their new home on Tarr Road.

Chele Clarkin has found a place where she can put the pieces back together. 

The Cambridge woman is building memories in her new Ohaupo home after she lost nearly everything in a house fire in August. 

The fire, which is believed to have started in her kitchen downlights, reduced her Kaipaki home of 20 years to rubble two days after she returned from visiting her sons in Europe.

Chele Clarkin at her home of 20 years, which burnt down in August.

Chele Clarkin at her home of 20 years, which burnt down in August.

She lost everything, including keepsakes from both her late husband and late daughter.

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"It's been a humbling experience and while it wasn't much fun at the time, I have learnt a lot. The biggest learning has been the people," Clarkin said. 

"People have come out of the woodwork who I don't even know that well and been so kind and generous." 

Clarkin is no stranger to tragedy. Emma died at 19 in a car accident in 2000. Then Clarkin's husband of nearly 30 years, Paul, died in a polo accident in 2004. 

Clarkin has recently found a new place to call home. 

She brought the house with son Matt and his wife, Larissa, just down the road from her other son, John-Paul, his wife, Nina, and their respective families. 

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It's an option that Clarkin hadn't been considering but is now getting her head around. 

She had been prepared to rebuild her dream home on top of the burnt remains of her old one. 

Then John-Paul suggested selling that.

"So I went, yeah, okay, maybe it's time, a fresh start. And thank god I made the decision before I built my dream home, as I probably wouldn't have wanted to leave."

Clarkin said that of all the things that have happened to her in her life, the fire was not the worst.

"I wouldn't want to have it happen again, but that's not what upsets me as much as when we decided to move. That was quite traumatic.

"I think it's because we're leaving Emma, who died from there, and Paul's memorial was there. A lot has happened there and the kids grew up there. I made a lot of friends, there is a lot that has happened there. I made a lot of memories there."

The family Clarkin sold her property to has a great amount of respect for what she has been through and allowed her to take part of a memorial garden she had made and have promised to respect anything she has left behind. 

Clarkin has grand plans for her home in the coming months. She plans to renovate it and hopefully before Christmas have it all sorted so that she can use one end as an Airbnb. 

Homeless over summer, someone saw her Facebook request to hire a caravan or camper van over the Christmas period. She was lent a house bus free for as long as she needed it. 

"I had the bus for two and a half months, loved it, parked at the back of JP and Nina's house. It was an amazing summer. I had all my grandchildren for the summer. It was awesome - lots of laughter, lots of fun."

She has plenty of gift vouchers to help her replace housewares once she's ready to refurbish her new home. 

"I've got over $1000 in vouchers for Farmers or Briscoes, so when I do need to go shopping, it's not going to be so traumatic. 

"I was insured, but definitely, definitely not insured enough for the contents, which is a big eye-opener for everybody, I think."

Clarkin's a project person and there are lists galore as she prepares to update the Tarr Road house. 

"It is daunting, challenging, but it's going to be okay. 

"It's quite good in some ways. My house was full of my grandparents' stuff, Mum and Dad's stuff, my stepdad's stuff. Everything belonged to someone else first and I did love that, as it all had a story, all had a history. 

"But it's all gone and I guess it's time to start another round."

 - Waikato Times


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