Article Title:Mangawhai Heads: a month on
Category:True Stories
Author or Credit:Jacqui Stanford
Published on:12th February 2011 - 05:44 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
NDHA link:http://ndhadeliver.natlib.govt.nz/ArcAggregator/arcView/frameView/IE26755998/http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/36/article_9918.php
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Story ID:9918
Text:A month after an arson attack which left their business scorched beyond repair and precious memories in ashes, Lindsay Curnow and Juliet Leigh are still left with a stark reminder of the bitter hate crime which turned their lives upside down. The Mangawhai Heads packing shed which hosted their pride and joy Blooming Bulbs was set alight on 15 January, a week after the shed, their house and car were scrawled with anti-lesbian graffiti. Police are yet to pin down whoever is responsible and while the Northland couple has been overwhelmed with support and solidarity from across the nation, the pair is still dealing with the reality of not being able to trade this year. At present, there is no possibility the women can get underway again for this season, as they were due to start packing on 1st February, and most of their orders would be dispatched by April or May. The remains of the shed The Mangawhai Heads fire brigade undertook the massive task of clearing out the metal shed and shipping containers in the blazing heat last Saturday, and will salvage the metal for about $2,000, which they will put towards fundraising for a new fire van and ambulance for Mangawhai. The women are struggling with living beside constant reminders of the crime: "The view from our home and back verandah is still an eyesore and is now wide open to the public view so it is like living in a gold-fish bowl," Curnow says. They have had their security lights fixed and also put in some new ones, which went off for no reason over a couple of nights this week. "We both dived out with walking sticks etc the first time only to be greeted by the cat!" Curnow says. On Thursday night the cat was inside when the back lit up, but nothing appeared. "Guess we will have to get the electrician back to adjust the sensor. To be frank, we are still very, very frightened, not sleeping well and feel totally disempowered. "We have not heard from the police for some time so they obviously have no clues as to who the perpetrator is." Sifting through the ashes: Leigh has been sifting through the ashes of a lifetime of memories which were stored in the shed. "When I finally sorted through what was left of all my family memories, which I had stored 'safely' up on top of the burnt-out containers, I found the back half of a birthday card from a then youthful son #1 with the punch line of 'so I can read about it in the papers' which seemed rather apposite," she remarks. "Sadly, I found scorched remnants of books, video tapes, slides and memorabilia of my years of teaching, plus tapes of my four kids when they were babies. "My Dad died in 1958, when I was just eleven. Five years after, a 7th Form art student did a wonderful job of rendering him in pastels from one of the few photos of him. I had the portrait framed and presented it to Mum that Christmas. This week I found the charred frame and smashed glass of that portrait. So there is rather a lot of sadness around here still." Plenty of work ahead: The rubble which still needs clearing Curnow says they are now waiting on quotes to get the remaining rubble scooped out and taken to a refuse station, which will take about four large truckloads. "At the moment we are ripping out the burnt deck and taking up the flooring footing - unfortunately our mate Frank did a great building job and we're finding it quite tough work with crowbars, sledge hammers and jemmies borrowed from the neighbor," Curnow says. "There are burnt walls and fences to be removed and rebuilt, burnt trees to be cut or dug out and a lot of digging and filling needed before we can start to re-grass the area and put in some shrubs and trees. So we welcome muscles, spades, hammers, chainsaws, crowbars - any time." They have had their lawns mowed twice already by local man Mark Olsen, help with clearing away the burnt-out carcass from the fire brigade, meals from local eateries Sahara and Sand Bar and offers of premises to continue their business. "Someone even sent us some daffodil bulbs. We have also received cheques, and many emails, cards and texts. We are humbled by this collective generosity," Curnow says. The couple has also been given offers of breaks at baches around the country, which they can't take up yet: "things have just been too busy here; it has taken us ages to sift through everything and work out what was actually there so we can make lists for the assessor," she says. "While we had some insurance, when you get a total wipeout like this, insurance doesn't even begin to cover the damage." The couple says many other people have made offers of help, but they don't know how to contact them. "Please call Juliet on 021-626100 and you will find your offer gratefully taken up!" Curnow says. The wider impact: The shed before it was destroyed The night of the fire Curnow and Leigh were at the Mangawhai Club, celebrating the 30th birthday of a friend who has done the Blooming Bulbs data entry for a number of years. Here is a letter she has since sent to the couple: Sorry, I think I really needed to vent - I'm only now starting to realize how much this arson attack on Blooming Bulbs has stuffed up my life and my family's life! I was really relying on having about six weeks work to help pay our bills, buy the loads of baby things we still need and also pay for birthday presents as March and April brings on the onslaught of birthdays in my family. Those bastards have no idea how many lives they have actually affected by doing this cowardly act of crime. It stretches so far. My daughter can only do one day of day-care - because I'm not working we can't afford to have her in for two days as she would LOVE. And then there's the local day-care centre who are also missing out on that extra payment every week. The list of affected people goes on and on and this is only me and my family!! I do start to feel quite selfish when I think about how it's affected me because I couldn't even begin to imagine how this has affected Juliet and Lindsay's life, year's financial security, personal life being invaded, losing belongings and just feeling insecure in your own home!! I hope the bastards get caught and strung up in the middle of Wood St for everyone to humiliate!! I feel just so angry towards them!! Anger towards what they have done to Juliet Juliet and Lindsay will be at the Big Gay Out in Auckland this Sunday, where a fundraising stall will be run from the Gay Auckland Business Association tent.       Jacqui Stanford - 12th February 2011
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