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Fight abandoned

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2014
Betty Kanuta

MOVING ON: Betty Kanuta is sad to say goodbye to the state house she raised her family in.

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In sickness and in health, till death do us part.

That's how Betty Kanuta, 56, has always felt about the Auckland suburb she called home for more than five decades.

But her attitude is changing after being served a 90-day eviction notice at her Housing New Zealand home on December 3.

It was the start of a bad run of luck.

Just two weeks later she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She has since been offered another state house on the other side of Glen Innes but is worried it might be a temporary solution as Housing New Zealand progresses with its plans for the area.

The house she has lived in for 33 years is being removed as part of the Northern Glen Innes Redevelopment Project, which aims to redevelop 156 houses to make way for 260 new homes.

Mrs Kanuta has been trying to delay moving because of her poor health but has finally given up the fight.

"I've had to make this decision under duress.

"All I wanted to do was stay at home to recover - not forever."

Mrs Kanuta signed her new lease on Wednesday after more than a month of negotiations with the agency and will move on April 21.

Mrs Kanuta had a double mastectomy in February and is still recovering.

Last week she was told the cancer cells have spread and she will need chemotherapy as soon as possible.

Negotiating with Housing New Zealand has added to the strain but she is trying to keep her chin up, she says.

"I know I have to be strong. I can't let this get me down because I don't think I would get back up.

"I just need to rest but it's hard to tell your brain that."

The Tamaki Housing Group held a protest against the 90-day eviction notices in early March.

Group member Sue Henry says eviction notices and reviews on elderly and disabled tenants should be stopped. "Betty is basically disabled now, she's that sick she can't take any more.

"She's certainly not in any condition to fight."

Housing New Zealand Auckland regional manager Denise Fink says the organisation has communicated clearly with Mrs Kanuta since 2011.

It wrote to her a year ago saying she would need to move between March and May 2014.

Mrs Kanuta's new home is within 2km of her present house so she will still be close to support networks, Ms Fink says.

She says the project as a whole is going well with new, insulated houses replacing the older stock.

"To date, we have relocated 126 for the project and all of them have been re-housed in an area of their choice.

"If you look around Northern Glen Innes today you will see that new state homes are being built.

"These homes are a far cry from the properties they have replaced."

But Mrs Kanuta says the house removals have changed the tight-knit community.

There are two empty sites next to Mrs Kanuta's house and another directly opposite. She does not know where her neighbours have moved to.

"It's sad seeing our Glen Innes like this," she says.

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- East And Bays Courier

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