20 May 2015

Back where it belongs

9:56 pm on 20 May 2015

A room where critically acclaimed crime writer Dame Ngaio Marsh worked has been reassembled after it suffered flood damage.

Ngaio Marsh house

Ngaio Marsh house Photo: Sally Murphy

The house, which is open to the public and sits on a hill in the suburb of Cashmere in Christchurch, flooded after drains failed with heavy rain last month.

A small group of volunteers worked to move furniture and books from storage back into the study this morning.

Dame Ngaio Marsh lived in the weather-board home since she was a little girl up until her death there in 1982.

Ngaio Marsh house

Ngaio Marsh house. Photo: Sally Murphy

The house was gifted by her cousin to the Historic Places Trust, which created a separate trust called Ngaio Marsh House and Heritage.

The rooms were preserved as though Dame Marsh never left, and the house opened to the public in 1996.

Perpetual Guardian client manager Kate Palmer said following the flood it was important everything went back exactly where it was.

"We had a team from Heritage New Zealand who came and helped move everything out of the room, and now the problem is fixed we are moving it all back."

Ms Palmer said the house was in constant need of work.

"It is an old house it was built in 1902 it is obviously aging so there are on-going maintenance issues, especially the roof which is in a bad state."

Ngaio Marsh House trustee Ian Lochhead said the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes caused minimal damage but the affects are on-going.

"The flooding is probably due to the ground changing in the earthquakes, we hope we have the problem fixed now, but with hill properties in particular water movement needs to be watched carefully."

It is a labour of love for Mr Lochhead who has been involved with the trust since it was formed in 1992.

"It has really assured this wonderful property has remained in tact with all its contents for the people of Christchurch, nationally and devotees to crime writers all over the world."

Ngaio Marsh house

Ngaio Marsh house Photo: Sally Murphy

Christchurch Heritage limited chairperson Anna Crighton said work carried out by the Ngaio Marsh trust was invaluable.

"It is absolutely fantastic because what they have done is keep as true as they can to when Ngaio Marsh lived there."

With about 20 people touring the house each month, the trust hoped with more restoration the number will only increase.

Ngaio Marsh house

Ngaio Marsh house Photo: Sally Murphy