Family say they were living in commercial building badly damaged in quakes

A couple claims they were living in the Molesworth St building when the quake hit, despite it being for commercial use.
MONIQUE FORD/FAIRFAX NZ

A couple claims they were living in the Molesworth St building when the quake hit, despite it being for commercial use.

A family claim they were living in the Molesworth St building that was so badly damaged by this week's earthquakes that it's going to be pulled down.

The former Deloitte building is zoned as a commercial building, and was not thought to be occupied, but Ernest and Olive Mape say they were living there when the quake hit.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said on Wednesday afternoon it was likely the building would be pulled down, with further plans to be announced. 

The couple told 1News on Wednesday evening that they and their children had been living in the building since June, and moved there after their property manager offered it to them as an alternative to another property, which was unfit to live in.

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"We felt we were pushed a bit, we were only given a day to decide if we were going to take the place or not," Olive Mape said.

They said the shaking was so bad in the building when the first earthquake hit that they thought it was the "big one" for Wellington.

They left the building that night, but returned the next morning to find floor-to-ceiling cracks and burst water pipes.

According to the Mapes, they had been paying $300 in rent a week to live in the building, and there were other people living there.

Wellington City Council staff were unaware anyone was living in the building.

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It is owned by Eyal Aharoni, who told 1News on Tuesday that no-one was living there.

For now, the Mapes are staying in a hotel, but hope they will be given the opportunity to go back into the building to get their belongings back.

"It's everything, that's all we have. We may not have a house now but those are memories that we have," Olive Mape said.

 - Stuff

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