Members of the Drury community are in shock after the death of a long-time resident in a house fire.

Denis and Elizabeth Kemp, both in their 80s, were in their home early yesterday when it caught fire.

Mr Kemp was able to escape the burning house, but his wife of almost 60 years did not.

The couple, originally from South Africa, have lived in their Drury home since moving to New Zealand about 50 years ago.


They have three adult daughters, one of whom was visiting her parents when the fire broke out.

Mr Kemp was taken to Middlemore Hospital in Otahuhu but was discharged later in the day.

The couple are understood to have been among the original residents of Harry Dreadon Rd in Drury.

Bruce Inns, who has been friends with Mr Kemp for almost 30 years, said everybody knew him.

"He's 89 years old and still rides his tractor around the place. He has four cows and is just a brilliant man."

Mr Inns, who has been an electrician in Papakura for more than 40 years, told the Herald his friend was a devoted and loving husband.

"Elizabeth hadn't been well for quite a few months, she'd had a few bouts in hospital. But he was totally dedicated to her. Even after all those years, you could see the passion in his eyes when he'd come over and have a cup of tea with us. He never lost that love for her."

Mr Inns said the couple migrated to New Zealand when Mr Kemp landed a job with New Zealand Glass.

"He was a very clued-up man, and really up there in the company.

"After he retired he still kept very busy. He's got his four cows - the girls, we call them - grazing up on the paddocks."

Last night, the Fire Service said there was no reason to believe the fire was anything other than accidental.