State house reno be­fore demo

Waikato Times - - Front Page - Donna Lee Bid­dle donna-lee.bid­dle@stuff.co.nz

AHamil­ton state house is set to be de­mol­ished just weeks af­ter be­ing fur­nished with $7000 worth of new car­pet and drapes. Plans to bowl the three-bed­room weath­er­board home were sev­eral years in the mak­ing.

How­ever, ten­ant James McIl­wrick was only told last month.

While Hous­ing New Zealand are pro­vid­ing him with a new home, start­ing over is a scary prospect for the 84-year-old.

McIl­wrick has lived in the Fair­field Rd prop­erty for 46 years. He moved in in 1973, when the rent was $14. He has tried to buy the place a few times and was told it was not for sale.

Nev­er­the­less, he planted the le­mon and po¯ hutukawa trees in the front yard and put down tomato patches and grape vines in the back.

He’s also raised three daugh­ters there. ‘‘It’s very dis­heart­en­ing. Please let me live my last few years out here.

‘‘I don’t know where they’re go­ing to put me. Ev­ery­thing is here . . . the bus stop is out­side for when I get my li­cence taken off me, which is not very far, an­other cou­ple of years I sup­pose.

‘‘At my age, it’s a bit hard to make new con­nec­tions.’’

The great-grand­fa­ther re­cently had a her­nia op­er­a­tion but worked in the earth­mov­ing in­dus­try right up un­til last Christ­mas.

He looked for­ward to tend­ing to his gar­dens and spend­ing more time with his fam­ily, es­pe­cially his great-grand­chil­dren who spend hours play­ing in the po¯ hutukawa.

McIl­wrick will have a meet­ing with a Hous­ing New Zealand rep­re­sen­ta­tive next week, and af­ter that he will have 90 days to move out.

The three-bed­room prop­erty would be de­mol­ished or pos­si­bly re­moved to make way for four new homes in re­sponse to the grow­ing need for state homes, a HNZ spokesman said.

The car­pet, cur­tains and ex­trac­tor fan in the bath­room were in­stalled to en­sure the house was ‘‘warm and dry’’.

It was the first time the or­gan­i­sa­tion had up­dated any­thing in the home, McIl­wrick said.

‘‘They spent all that money on it and then they go and knock it down – what a waste.

‘‘They wouldn’t even let me come back. I asked if I could put my stuff in stor­age and then come back . . . they said no.’’

The site is ex­pected to be de­vel­oped by mid-2019.

Hous­ing NZ also de­vel­oped the sec­tion be­hind McIl­wrick’s prop­erty. They re­moved two houses and built eight units.

He asked then if he would be moved and was told his prop­erty would stay. ‘‘I told the girls (McIl­wrick’s daugh­ters) that I had to move and they all cried.

‘‘This has al­ways been their home. It will al­ways be our home.’’

PHO­TOS: TOM LEE/STUFF

"This has al­ways been [my daugh­ters’] home. It will al­ways be our home,’’ James McIl­wrick said.

James McIl­wrick has lived at his Fair­field Rd prop­erty for 46 years.

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