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Te Kiteroa Retreat and Historic Homestead has long held a special place in the hearts and minds of the Waimate community.

Owners Gary and Ann Dennison, and their daughter Rose Tautari, have been moved by the outpouring of support, well wishes and generosity from the Waimate community, and others across New Zealand and the world, after a fire severely damaged the 1913 homestead on May 15.

“Te Kiteroa truly has held a special place and provided wonderful memories for the countless people who have visited, stayed as guests, or called her home over the past 100 years,” the Dennison family said in a statement.

“We are incredibly grateful to the vast number of people and local agencies who have given their support, time and expertise in a time of great shock and sadness for our family.”

The cause of the fire was believed to be an electrical fault with components of an emergency lighting system, which started the fire in a wall at the back of the property. It quickly spread to the roof of the building.

The damage was “significant and excessive”, and the family was “incredibly thankful” no-one was injured.

“It is a timely reminder that even safety systems with regular certifications, monitoring and maintenance can experience faults, and to go over your household escape plan with your loved ones for what to do in the case of a fire.”

The Dennisons knew a lot of people were eager to know what the future held for the homestead. They would communicate their next steps “as and when we know more”.

“Our family is looking to continue forward in a way that we trust will be positive for the community.”

Many people had asked how they could help, but Mr and Mrs Dennison said their immediate needs were met.

“We would like to put this generosity towards supporting our incredible local Waimate community.”

Anyone wishing to support them was encouraged to donate to St John New Zealand, or the Point Bush Ecological Restoration Trust via the trust’s Givealittle page.

Mrs and Mrs Dennison have been working to establish an ecosanctuary above Te Kiteroa, which they planned to gift to the Waimate community. There is now a predator-proof fenced 90ha conservation area for native birdlife and flora to flourish.