All their stuff on reef
The Swetman family believed it would be safe to send everything they owned to New Zealand by ship – never did they imagine that ship would become stranded on a reef just miles from its final destination.
Carl and Kristina with their two children Travis, 5, and Elli, 3, moved to Matamata in August from Foster City, California but their furniture, photos albums, 3000 books, $ 20,000 worth of tools, clothes and other personal items are trapped in a container on Rena, just off the coast of Mt Maunganui.
And now hope that those items will be recovered is quickly fading.
The family moved to Matamata for a quiet, peaceful lifestyle away from the city and to be close to Mr Swetman’s family. But what greeted them here was gutwrenching to say the least.
‘‘When Carl told me the ship was sinking I threw up. I was so nauseous for the next week,’’ Mrs Swetman said.
‘‘But I am starting to get past that now. We just have to think of the container as gone so we can move on.
‘‘You have to remember that everything on there is just stuff. At the end of the day all you need is your family and what is on your back to survive.’’
Mrs Swetman said no-one will tell them any information about the ship, their container or the future so in the meantime they are trying to piece their life back together and stay positive.
‘‘It is hard without your own furniture though. When you have your stuff from home it makes you feel at home but it is okay. It’s got to the point that we are just trying to have a laugh about it because we don’t know what else to do.’’
Their contents was not insured due to a tight financial situation when they left.
But day by day their house is being filled with furniture thanks to the generosity of people in the community.
‘‘People have been incredible and so gracious in the community – so giving and I feel very fortunate,’’ she said.
And despite all of this they have never once questioned their move here.
Mr Swetman grew up in Matamata but moved to the United States 12 years ago. He now works at Open Country in Waharoa and Mrs Swetman is looking for a teaching position.
Settling in: The Swetman family from left, Travis, 5, Kristina, Carl and Elli, 3, share a drink at their new home in Matamata despite that everything they own is stuck in a container on Rena.