- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 9 March 2016, 8:16AM
It's one of the most exclusive homes on the playground of the rich and famous, but this weekend a luxury five-bedroom Waiheke Island mansion will be burned to the ground.
The two-level home on a 4.5 hectare Matapana Rd section at Boatshed Bay - formerly linked to businessman Mark Hotchin - will go up in smoke in a training exercise for the Waiheke Volunteer Fire Brigade on Saturday.
The sprawling property features a four-car garage, two-bedroom guest accommodation, boat ramp, spa pool and tennis courts.
It also boasts a 100-metre long sandy beach, which the house overlooks.
An insider says the house is a relic of the past and its modern replacement will be stylish and unassuming.
Formerly owned by a trust, KA No3, linked to Mr Hotchin, the property changed hands for $14.25 million in 2014, above its capital valuation of $13 million, in what was believed to be the second biggest residential sale of the year.
The land is valued at $12 million and "improvements" add a further $1 million on an exclusive part of the island, notable for claiming fifth spot in Lonely Planet's list of the world's best destinations.
The property is now owned by husband and wife Brent and Denise Sutton and John Burns. They could not be contacted last night.
A source familiar with the Suttons said he was sure they would build something discreet, in keeping with their character.
Rather than ostentatious, it was likely the new home would be "stylish" and "elegant".
"They are not flashy. Probably their intention is to do nothing much bigger than what was there."
The house was 1980s architecture, he said.
Fire brigade deputy fire chief Bruce Sciascia said the property owners had looked into moving or demolishing the house, but that was too expensive, so they offered it to firefighters.
Last year Thomson Towboats turned heads as it transported two houses across the Hauraki Gulf by barge on a journey from Bucklands Beach to Northland.
Taking a mansion by boat from Waiheke would involve significant logistical challenges.
"We're going to be up in that five-figure bracket, easily, to remove something," Thomson Towboats owner Lance Brown said, and that was just the on-water costs.
Mr Sciascia said houses of this size didn't come up for use very often.
"In my 30 years of firefighting on the island this will be only the second live house-burning I've been to," he said.
"Most of the ones we get offered are little one-bedroom shacks that are derelict and falling apart and they are of no value at all to train in."
More than 20 firefighters would take part in the training.
"This Saturday we're planning on doing some live fire training, which basically involves setting various sizes of fire in the house to simulate a kitchen fire or a fire in the bedroom."
Some Waiheke residents have expressed concerns about the fire.
"Are people aware that the $15 million property at Boatshed Bay next to Palmy Beach is scheduled to be burnt to the ground this Saturday?" asked Lyndal Jefferies on one online forum.
"The neighbours are so worried about their pets, the bush at the bottom of their section and the acrid carcinogenic smoke."
Mr Sciascia said 90 per cent of locals supported the training. The Fire Service had to "jump through hoops" to get the necessary consents and had plans in place for factors such as monitoring winds.
Neighbours had been informed via a letter drop, he said.
Auckland principal rural fire officer Bryan Cartelle said the Fire Service had the "required permissions" to undertake the controlled burning.
"The site has been inspected by two of our rural fire officers and these activities provide essential training opportunities. The site and exercises will be under strict supervision by the Fire Service, and neighbours have been notified."