After eight years of living in an unpermitted 37sqm yurt, Kris Kolff moved into his new accommodation last night - a campervan.
The property owner at 1212 West Bank Rd in the Motueka Valley, Irma Jager, said it was absurd that Kolff's warm and structurally sound home had been deemed illegal by the Tasman District Council but that he could live in a "tiny" campervan on her property legally for two months and then move into a different campervan for another two months.
"The building inspector actually suggested that to us - that if we had six campervans we'd be legal. They were trying to be helpful; it's absurd," she said.
Kolff said his yurt had been a wonderful home and ever since he moved to Wantoo Wantoo - the property's whimsical name based on its address - he had never given a thought to living elsewhere.
He owns a house in Nelson, now occupied by his son and his family, but said: "I don't want to live there any more. It's not that I can't afford to; I just really want to live here."
West Bank Rd neighbour and yurt expert Remko Ros said the yurt, a portable tent-like structure traditionally used by nomads, and its wool insulation was in great shape and made for affordable accommodation.
"You've got 37msq of living space for $10,000. It's been standing here for eight years with high winds and it hasn't budged."
Jager said it was ironic to hear the Government talking about affordable housing: "We're not just talking about it, we've done it."
Jager and her partner Jan-Albert Droppers had charges brought against them by the TDC for breaches of the Resource Management Act and failing to comply with the Building Act, following their alleged failure to comply with last year's Environment Court order around illegal dwellings on the property.
They have been summonsed to appear in the Nelson District Court on Wednesday on two charges each, in relation to the yurt and a strawbale cottage being deemed to be illegal dwellings.
By the end of Thursday, Kolff would be moved into a campervan and the family in the straw bale cottage were to be living in a house bus.
Jager said that they had notified the council of their intent to comply and it was the council's duty to inform the court that they were now in compliance. She hoped the council would then stay the court proceedings, although she and Droppers would appear if the hearing went ahead next Wednesday.
Council environment and planning manager Dennis Bush-King said earlier in the week that the council was left with no option but to advise the court the couple had failed to comply with the order, and bring the charges. He would not be drawn on whether the charges might be withdrawn in the event the couple complied.
Jager said her family and others living at Wantoo Wantoo had received "amazing support" from all over the country in the past week and that their compliance was a tactical retreat.
"Then we're going to take this to a whole new level; people all over New Zealand are uniting on this."
She said their stand of non-compliance was not based on trying to avoid rates and that money was not the issue.
"If it was about money, we never would have gone this far."
She said it would have been much cheaper to have complied immediately with the council's regulations.
The council had a workshop yesterday reviewing its rural policies, which includes rules around multiple dwellings and another one scheduled for Tuesday. A report on the issue is scheduled to be presented at the environment and planning committee meeting on July 4.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Did you breastfeed your children?Related story: (See story)