Kaikoura man uses bricks from shattered house for outdoor cook-up

8:11 am on 18 November 2016

Gary Melville spent most of yesterday slow cooking a roast lamb on his garden lawn.

He used an old, large crock-pot surrounded by bricks that had once formed the wall of his home, and he sat on a worn plastic chair warming his hands by the fire.

He had turned disaster into triumph, or at least, a triumphant dinner.

Inside sat all of his home-brew smashed in Monday's quake, furniture up-ended, and other "knick-knacks", tossed around and broken.

He has been without electricity for four days.

A fire pit Gary Melville built out of fallen bricks from his quake damaged home.

Bricks from Gary Melville's damaged house are repurposed for cooking Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

"I don't want to say I'm enjoying it because our house is trashed and we've lost so much of our treasures and it's real sad like that, but it's also a little exciting," he said.

He and his wife, Gay, have lived in Kaikoura for 30 years in the home he bought as a young man when his parents died.

He loves Kaikoura and has no plans to leave.

"It's such a great place with wonderful people," he said.

"It gets pretty busy in the summer with tourists but you get your town back in the winter."

Mr Melville is the skipper of a dolphin watch business. "No work tomorrow," he said.

He was awake when the shaking started.

Gary Melville's quake damaged home.

The Melville's house was badly damaged in the quake. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

"It started real soft like 'dink-donk' and I thought, 'uh oh, that was an earthquake'," he said.

"Then it went 'dink-donk' a bit more and I thought, 'oh God, probably Christchurch copping it again'.

"Then it went 'dink-donk, dink-donk, dink-donk' and cut loose like you wouldn't believe.

"I knew then it wasn't Christchurch. It was us - it was our turn."

They own a small dog, but it ran off frightened and had not returned.

"It better come back or my wife will be devastated," said Mr Melville.

Unlike most of the town, they had a fresh fruit and vegetable supply in their garden.

"Overall, we're pretty well off. We were prepared in a lot of ways."

As his lamb dinner roasted on the fire, he said: "It's the perfect opportunity to have the camping trip that we always wanted but never had because we were so busy".

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