A 100-year-old woman and her daughter-in-law were rescued from the rubble of an historic homestead, while her son tragically did not make it.

The Elms Homestead in Kaikoura collapsed following the magnitude 7.5 earthquake at 12.02am, and rescuers spent hours searching for the three residents.

A Fire Service spokesman said one of the woman was able to escape the large home themselves, while the other was rescued. The man did not survive.

Well-known locals Pam and Louis Edgar live at the property with Louis' 100-year-old mother, Margaret.

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The women have "lost everything," said a relative.

Relatives are desperately trying to get into Kaikoura which has been cut off by large slips blocking the only access roads.

Helicopters are currently being used to evacuate people from the coastal settlement, which still has no power.