All their stuff on reef

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By LAURA MCLEAY

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.

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