Living life in their car with eleven pets
Living in a car with six cats, four chihuahuas and a rabbit was never part of their plan.
Selwyn and Shirley Mcmillan went from a comfortable home in Whakatane to a boarding house to a tent and now their maroon Toyota Scepter is home.
It’s mid-afternoon on a weekday and they’re parked up off the main street in Tokoroa because they’d heard there was cheap housing in the South Waikato town.
The car is packed with stuff animal cages, clothes, blankets.
Much of their desperate situation appears to stem from Selwyn’s health.
The 58-year-old suffers epileptic seizures that came on in 1978 after he came off a farm bike and crashed head first into concrete wall.
They’ve worsened since the pair became homeless to the point where Shirley, 54, was forced to leave her job to care for him.
They’ve been told that it’s not a matter of if but when for Selwyn.
Being homeless has exacerbated their problems and people assuming they choose this life doesn’t help, Shirley says.
‘‘It’s very frustrating ... Nothing about it is enjoyable. You can’t do anything.
The couple live off Selwyn’s ACC benefit of $445 a week, and $130 of that goes to storage of their belongings.
Shirley says she isn’t eligible for a benefit due to their circumstances.
They eat once every two days so there’s enough food for the animals’ daily meal.
The cats - Merlot, Little Lady, Kinks, Allie-mae, Zink and Tigger - the dogs - Sharneeka, Kieran, Cosima, Huia - and Kandee the rabbit share the car too.
Yet parting with them isn’t an option, Shirley says.
‘‘The animals keep us going. Every day having to get up to feed them, every day having to take them to the toilet, getting kisses from them - they are what is keeping us alive.’’
The Mcmillans are pining for a normal life again, dreaming of going to their own toilet or sitting at their own table.
They are hoping Selwyn’s seizures will become more manageable in a house, allowing Shirley to find employment again.
She’s previously worked as a checkout operator. She’d even look at relief milking so she could take Selwyn with her.
She misses the simple things ‘‘I would love to have a cup of tea every night,’’ she said.