Families displaced by quakes get new homes

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 24/09/2012
Richard and Miriam Hyett
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ

HOME COMFORTS: Richard and Miriam Hyett with sons Marcel, 14, left, Raphael, 11, and Pierre, 18, in their soon-to-be new abode.

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Two families forced into exceptional living arrangements after the Canterbury earthquakes will soon roll out the welcome mat at new volunteer-built homes.

Rangiora couple Hamish and Angela Pollard and their six children had been living in a tent at a camping group after losing their rented home, while Richard and Miriam Hyett and their three teenage sons crammed into a houseboat at Kairaki Beach after several post-quake moves.

Neither couple could find an affordable house after the quakes.

Their stories came to the attention of charitable group Habitat for Humanity, which over the past five months used local and international volunteers to build two new houses in Kaiapoi.

The families will take possession of the houses, which were dedicated yesterday, in about four weeks.

Richard Hyett said having a new house was "surreal".

"The chance to get back into a house is a great feeling. When people come together, good things come from it," he said.

"You hear about so much pain and suffering, so it's great to have a happy ending."

The Habitat offer was a "golden opportunity" to own an affordable house after the many moves, Hyett said.

"When we got told we had the house, we almost couldn't believe it,'' he said.

"Rents are high and you're trying to get something better. It's the circumstances of just trying to find somewhere you can actually survive."

The Canterbury Community Trust gave $250,000 to buy the land, and construction was financed by a loan from Housing New Zealand's housing innovation fund.

Homeowners pay back an interest-free loan, which funds further Habitat projects.

The group planned to build more homes for mostly uninsured quake-affected Cantabrians and repair about 50 damaged homes.

Habitat for Humanity Christchurch manager Peter Taylor said the Kaiapoi houses were the first completed since the quakes.

Two further houses were under construction next door.

"It's really turning a page for us [in Christchurch]. Other affiliates around the country have been doing a heap more and this is our first attempt to really catch up to the model the rest of the country has set for us," he said.

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- The Press

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