Cancer halts eviction fight

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 07:43 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, the suburb where she is currently based.

The house she has lived in for 33 years is being removed as part of the Northern Glen Innes Redevelopment Project – a Housing New Zealand initiative aimed at addressing current stock shortages by making better use of existing land and buildings.

The plan will see the 156 houses redeveloped and, in some cases removed, to make for 260 new homes on smaller sections.

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.

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

She 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.

"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.

A protest organisation, the Tamaki Housing Group, lobbied against the 90-day eviction notices in early March.

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 Kanuta since 2011.

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

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

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