A late mother's natural earth dream home

By Tema Hemi

The first prototype natural earth house is being built in the Putiki Native Reserve in Whanganui. It was the last dream house of Moaari Maraea Bailey who passed away last year as a result of a cancerous brain tumor.  

Husband Phillip Baertchi says, "She was very easygoing and approachable, she was a humorous person, good-natured, a loving person who cared about other people and in her own little way tried to make the world a bit of a better place.  I promised her that [daughter] Zoe and I would see the house through to completion and take care of each other and carry on her dream and vision."

They are currently building a strong foundation for a eco-friendly home using the materials from the very earth the house stands on.

Daughter Zoe Cochran says, "It's the only thing that matters at the moment to be honest.  It's been a huge change in our world just to get it all happening.  It's just amazing that there's people out there who have the time and the love to give."

The house has some radical and rustic design features.  For instance, using 5,000 recycled wine bottles as a foundation insulation layer.

Builder Tom Oldham says, "You're taking materials from as close to the source as possible, minimising industrialisation and getting it communal and the people's input."

Total cost for the build is $300,000 for a simple three bedroom home of 120 square metres.  The house is expected to be completed by the end of the year.