Quake exiles forced out again
A year on from the quake that exiled them from Kaiko¯ura, Gill and Larry Hunter have again been forced from home and work.
In November 2016 the Hunter’s hydroponic strawberries were fried by the post-quake power cut and their fruit and vege business did not survive the loss of tourist custom.
They thought they had found better luck managing a Golden Bay holiday camp in Puponga. But a year later, they face an uncertain future, after being forced out over two negative reviews they say were unjustified.
The Hunters had had their Kaiko¯ura Stoney Creek fruit and vege shop for three years when the 7.8 magnitude quake upended their lives on November 14, 2016. They had previously lost their livelihood and house in Nelson to a bad business deal.
But the fruit and vege business was no longer viable with the highway shut.
They landed a job managing the Farewell Gardens holiday camp in idyllic Puponga. They were gearing up for summer, when owners Kevin and Hildi Schimanski, told them to leave.
The Schimanskis declined to comment, saying it was a private matter between them and the Hunters. However, they forwarded a negative customer review ‘‘from which you may draw your own conclusions’’.
Larry said that, of 650-odd visitors, they had received two complaints. ‘‘You can’t be responsible for what people put on Facebook.’’
With nowhere to go and only 65-yearold Larry’s superannuation to survive on, the Hunters have spent the past month desperately looking for a home to rent. A kind real estate agent found them a three-bedroom house inland, beyond Takaka. It is more than they can afford, but for now it is a roof over their heads.
‘‘Then we can readjust our lives, just like we did after Kaiko¯ura. We’re still having flashbacks and things. We just need some luck,’’ Larry said.
Larry and Gill Hunter have been forced from their work and home again.