Quake ex­iles forced out again

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - NIKKI MAC­DON­ALD

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.

NINA HINDMARSH/NEL­SON MAIL

Larry and Gill Hunter have been forced from their work and home again.

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