Oakura beachcomber Eric Brewer will be evicted from his home of 16 years this week despite widespread public feeling that he should be left alone.
The 62-year-old sickness beneficiary has received written notice from the New Plymouth District Council instructing him to vacate his driftwood and tarpaulin home on Tapuae Beach by 3pm tomorrow.
Council manager parks Mark Bruhn said it was up to Mr Brewer to contact Housing New Zealand to arrange new accommodation.
As of yesterday afternoon, the Taranaki Daily News understood Mr Brewer had not yet made contact with Housing New Zealand.
A Facebook page to support Mr Brewer, set up by one of his family members, had gained 4381 likes yesterday and 384 people had signed a petition opposing his eviction.
The moderator of the page intends to deliver the petition to council tomorrow morning.
In a poll on the Taranaki Daily News website in which 1910 people voted, 70 per cent thought Mr Brewer should be left alone, although 21.6 per cent thought he had no right to be there.
Mr Bruhn said the council had met with Mr Brewer twice to discuss options and he knew what the process was.
"We're proceeding in discussions with him and he knows what options he does have in terms of talking to Housing New Zealand.
"Obviously we're very concerned for Eric in terms of what his options are."
He said Housing New Zealand had identified Mr Brewer as high priority.
Tenancy Services Manager at Housing New Zealand Darren Toy said Mr Brewer had not been in touch with them.
"We are in contact with the New Plymouth District Council and can confirm that the council is encouraging Mr Brewer to get in touch with us either by calling us or by visiting us in person at our local office, and to let him know that we would treat his assessment as a priority."
New Plymouth man Jason Monsall visited the Daily News yesterday to express his disagreement with the council decision.
He said he did not know Mr Brewer but had spoken to people who said he was a good guy.
"I personally think he should be left to do his thing. I don't understand why after 16 years of being there, they're trying to evict him now.
"He's been allowed 16 years to settle into a life and become attached to it."
Mr Monsall said if Mr Brewer was being a nuisance to the public this should be dealt with by police, not council.
"If he is causing the problems he has been accused of, that should be dealt with through the proper channels.
"Criminals are convicted of all sorts of things and they don't get taken away from their houses."
The complaints the council has received about Mr Brewer include him getting drunk, walking naked around the beach and intimidating drivers.
Mr Bruhn said the council had received three phone calls yesterday regarding Mr Brewer's relocation, one of concern and two from residents supporting the decision to move him.
- © Fairfax NZ News