Rescuing Ngaio Marsh House
Perpetual Guardian is the custodian trustee for the Ngaio Marsh House and Heritage Trust. The Trust maintains the former residence of New Zealand’s best-known crime writer, Dame Ngaio Marsh, whose works include Enter a Murderer, The Nursing Home Murder, and Death in Ecstasy.
Dame Ngaio lived in her house at 37 Valley Road, Cashmere for 76 years and died there in February 1982 at the age of 86. Her beloved home has been preserved exactly how it was when she lived there, and it is listed as a Category 1 Historic Place.
The Ngaio Marsh House and Heritage Trust runs off limited income which is raised through tours of the house (which is open to the public), rental of part of the house as a one-bedroom flat, and donations. In addition to Perpetual Guardian, there are eight other trustees and a committee of volunteers.
In April this year, there was a flood in the lower part of the house, where Dame Ngaio had her studio and where she had written many of her books. According to Ngaio Marsh House trustee, Dr. Ian Lochead, the flooding was most likely caused by ground shifting in the earthquakes.
Christchurch-based Client Manager, Kate Palmer, organised an emergency task force to remove the books and furniture which were threatened by the damp and mud leaking into the area. Kate called upon Heritage New Zealand who kindly came to the rescue, and six staff from our Christchurch office who volunteered to lend a hand.
As a result, the task was completed in a couple of hours. The endangered items were whisked away to the safety of an unoccupied flat at the top of the property. The drainage problem was fixed and Dame Ngaio’s possessions were returned to the study, so tours could resume.