Jane Bowron: Finally, a high-level solution to the housing crisis ...

The DOC track where Australian emigre Andy Marshall built a tree house which was chainsawed down by an angry property owner.
DASHA KUPRIENKO/FAIRFAX NZ

The DOC track where Australian emigre Andy Marshall built a tree house which was chainsawed down by an angry property owner.

OPINION: The larrikin Aussie chippie who illegally erected a tree house on the land of a Queenstown property owner may have inadvertently started an Occupy tree house movement.

The unmitigated gall of 23-year-old Andy Marshall banging up a tree house atop a 28-year-old douglas fir on prime lakeside real estate infuriated land-owner Peter Clark.

When Clark discovered he had an unwelcome non-paying tenant he informed the police and gave the Australian carpenter two weeks to get out. When that failed to move his uninvited guest on, Clark and his two sons took a chain saw to the base of the douglas fir and the tree house came crashing down.

Clark, 62, a former firefighter gave a tour of the tree house wreckage to a Newshub crew and supplied photos of the tree house's exterior and interior before it was destroyed.

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Describing it as a "rat's nest" and the occupant as a "rat", and an "Aussie bludger", Clark spoke for a nation sick of being given the raw prawn by their Australian neighbours.

Especially when Clark said New Zealand didn't need "pests" like Marshall, whom he likened to a "Queensland fruit fly" over here.

The Aussie culprit in question was suitably cocky when interviewed and indeed, his pointy features did give him a very rat-like appearance.

Marshall maintained that he was blindsided by Clark chopping down his dwelling, saying the first he heard of it was when a friend phoned to let him "knew" the bad news which, "I was a little bit spewing about".

The carpenter was good at construction, but not of sentences.

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Photos of the tree house showed it to be quite high-spec with a window to admire the magnificent lake view from, and the walls of the dwelling appeared to have been lined. However, any craftsmanship skills of the builder were overlooked by Clark, who was appalled at the contents he came across inside the tree house.

Beer, blankets, cannabis, an air rifle and a stack of condoms were proof, Clark said, that the squatter was "well protected". It would have been a brave woman, Clark believed, who would have climbed the tree sparing a thought for the safety of the erotic performers.

She, if there was a female taker, would have been not only brave but also a woman of sustained lust to have made the ascent. Perhaps the hypothetical woman in question may have been unable to find accommodation in Queenstown, and dossing down in a tree house with a rat was better than nothing.

Marshall has become a Queenstown "fruit fly legend" having used his initiative to erect a roof over his head. And he had the foresight to provide protection so he would stop the spread of his Australian seed among the female population.

In his defence, Marshall said he was under the initial impression that he had made his erection on council land. He also threatened to return to the scene of the crime to rebuild. Clark's response to the thwarted squatter's General MacArthur "I shall return" line was a brisk no-nonsense: "We'll deal to him, just like we dealt to the tree house".

If Clark was running for political office, such John Wayne talk would have had him elected by a landslide. The man in the tree and the man on the ground had both become heroes, the former giving hope to thousands struggling to find accommodation, the latter seen as a "git off ma land!" straight-shooter fighting off home invasion.

The Aussie carpenter has planted a seed of an idea in the minds of the unhoused to take to living in trees, like the remote Korowai tribe of Papua New Guinea who live six to eight metres above ground. An Occupy tree house movement would be an effective protest to shame the Government over the housing crisis.

Needs must. After the Christchurch earthquakes, people started to live and do business out of containers, the Start Up mall drawing tourists from all over the world.

In Wellington, where rental accommodation is hard to find, there's a vast Town Belt to repair to and build a tree house village of the dispossessed. As the Government refuses to curtail immigration, and insists that we have the infrastructure necessary to support increased tourism numbers, more and more Kiwis are being squeezed out. 

Like the Australian carpenter, locked-out Kiwis are more than "a little bit spewing" about being relegated to the back of the housing queue. When you're forced to live beyond the pale, if you haven't got a car to live in, taking to the trees is another option. Surely it's not just the rich who should be able to enjoy spectacular harbour and lakeside views.

 - The Dominion Post

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