A remarkable Queenstowner who died this month, aged 84, was renowned as an artist, art teacher, wedding celebrant, author, gardener and inspirational speaker.
DaVella Gore, who originally developed Lake Hayes’ Stoneridge Estate, including a wedding chapel, gardens and a vineyard, was born in Cromwell but grew up in Queenstown, where her mum had a shop at the top of what’s now The Mall.
She met her husband, Vance, in Queenstown, before they shifted to a sheep and cattle farm in Mangakino, in the North Island, when their son, Wayne, was one.
After a marriage split-up several years later, DaVella moved with Wayne to her mum’s place in the Coromandel.
During a life-threatening illness, she was urged to paint by her mum, little knowing she’d turn into a celebrated landscape painter and art tutor.
After moving between the Coromandel and Gisborne, DaVella shifted back to Queenstown in 1980, bought a rabbit-infested Lake Hayes section and picked up the remnants of Catholic churches in Winton and Hokitika.
The first was used to build her house, then the second was largely used for a wedding chapel.
That chapel started life as an art gallery, but Wayne says ‘‘after about six months of hanging paintings, too many people asked, could they have their ceremony in there?’’
Subsequently, DaVella became a wedding celebrant, marrying at least 600 couples in either the chapel or gardens, which themselves became a tourist attraction.
After a debilitating car crash in the North Island in the early ’90s restricted her ability to paint, she took up writing and wrote four humorous books, plus two books of landscape paintings.
In about 2000, Wayne and his wife, Suzanne, joined DaVella at Stoneridge, after she asked him to help out.
‘‘We built what was the lodge out of a church mum hadn’t used — the Howe Street Methodist Church, Dunedin.’’
DaVella would spent summers at Lake Hayes and winters in her Coromandel home, however over the past year she shifted with Wayne and his family, between Christchurch, where she passed away after a major stroke, and Queenstown.
Wayne says she leaves an amazing legacy — ‘‘she resonated with so many people’’.