Anonymous Paekakariki family extend mortgage, buy house for beloved villager
Raima Kingi put down the phone, wandered around her house, and realised she would actually get to harvest her garden this year.
Life as she knew it had changed: someone just extended their own mortgage and bought her a house – and all because they loved her.
The village of Paekakariki, north of Wellington, feared last year that it would lose one of its favourite residents because she and her family of eight could not afford to stay.
Now, thanks to her anonymous saviours, the house she has rented for 16 years will be bought by a community trust – and she'll get to eat the fruit and veges she planted in the garden.
Kingi and her family were told last July that their home in Tilley Rd was going up for sale.
They couldn't afford to buy it, and discovered that renting somewhere else in the village, or on the wider Kapiti Coast, might be out of the question too.
The average property value on the Kapiti Coast for December was $480,923, up 23 per cent on the same time in 2015.
Kingi has lived in Paekakariki for 31 years, and has long been a teacher aide at Paekakariki School.
When word got out that she might leave, community members hatched a plan, set up a trust in December, and went public with their idea to buy her house.
Trust spokeswoman Tina Pope said that, after lengthy negotiations, she was able to call Kingi to confirm the sale, and the fact she wouldn't have to move.
For now, to meet a deadline imposed by the seller, the house has been bought by a family who extended their own mortgage. They will retain ownership for up to a year, while the trust organises a permanent transfer to Kingi.
Pope said the family bought the house because "they love Raima", and because they liked the trust's mission to save village character.
About $11,500 was also raised on Givealittle to help with a deposit for the family, and there were extraordinary offers to help fund the venture after the trust went public.
"From 15-year-old kids going 'I've got my $1000 saved, I want to put it to this house', to other people with $25,000 or $30,000," Pope said.
Kingi said the sale was "surreal" and very humbling. "Thank you is not a big enough word for what's happened."
The family were three-quarters packed, and spent most of the summer cleaning and preparing to leave.
A couple of weeks before the sale was confirmed, she decided to plant her summer fruit and vegetable garden, she said.
"I planted it and the kids thought I was crazy. I said, 'At the end of the day, if we're here, it will be our kai, but if we're not, then it's a 'Nau mai, haere mai [welcome]' to someone else, and it can be their kai."