Razed to the Ground

A week ago, tragedy struck!

In some ways, this reads a little melodramatic, as no one died, no one was injured, no one went to jail. Still, in a personal way, it was a moment of disbelief and sadness. Our cutest-ever, character hydro-cottage (Kahu Cottage) in Mangakino, New Zealand burnt to the ground.

We were so thankful that the family living there were safe. We felt their grief as all their belongings were lost. No one can be blamed, it was just a cooking accident.

This event has provoked a lot of thought, discussion and caused loss of sleep; it has challenged our priorities and intensified our gratitude.

A week on, having had a virtual tour, thanks to a friend, memories have kicked in. Happy memories. If you are following my blog, you would have read about the Rousseau mural I was wanting to paint on the living-room wall, you would have seen some of his prints framed and hanging above the Art Deco fireplace.

before kitchen and dining room floor tiling, bedroom carpeting and white painted lounge floor

This cottage, over the last decade took up many, many hours of renovation and restoration. As I looked at the myriad of photos stored on my laptop, the before and after shots that documented our renovation progress, there is a certain strange feeling of completion. This old girl, went out looking great…for a hydro-cottage

My husband and I have laughed, as we remembered the days and days it took just to get two layers of old linoleum nailed down with thousands of small carpet tacks all over the living-room, kitchen and dining room floors.

  before                                           and                                        after

We have relived the horror of when we first got a chance to clean the place, after the sitting tenant left, to find the cobwebs so thick, they had fly spots all over them. And we shivered at memory of replacing an old window on a rather crisp, early spring day, just days before it was re rented.

As we walked down memory lane, we were left wondering how to replace this quirky, yet charming piece of history? This was the home of the coal merchant when this sleepy hollow was a thriving town during the 1940’s, situated right in the centre of the North Island, New Zealand.


Now, we stand on the cusp of opportunity and we are holding our breath…?

Last week I began to wonder if any artist captured such devastating and life changing events? And as I wondered and searched, an American, Lois Dodd grabbed my attention.


I found myself staring at her paintings of burning houses. Starring at the bright glow consuming the window openings. I was almost as motionless looking at her paintings, as I was when I looked at the photo and short video of our cottage alight.

What Lois Dodd’s paintings have done, is helped me work through the finality of fire. Her paintings have helped give me purpose to pen and by that, have expression and release for the love and sadness of quiet loss.

I have brought you a sad read, but a read that will allow our cottage to be immortalised as a piece of New Zealand history we were privileged enough to have owned and loved.

Mangakino, now a small holiday destination of respite, enjoyed by many city dwellers who have bought a slice of a lost era…A village we still call home.

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