Boulder Bank dweller moves houseboat

01:12, Apr 23 2014
Gargiulo family
FLOATING HOME: Paul Jepson’s illegal houseboat being towed to a new spot on Sunday.

Nelson's defiant Boulder Bank houseboat builder has been on the move again, his ramshackle erection towed up the Haven to a new spot yesterday.

Last week the Environment Court gave the elusive Paul Jepson three weeks to remove his houseboat and all its remnants or have it confiscated by the Nelson City Council.

Jepson didn't appear at the court hearing and wasn't represented. He has also resisted all approaches from the Nelson Mail, although once allowing his friend "Muzz" to speak on his behalf while he was within hearing.

His friend's trimaran, which is moved from point to point in the Haven, appears to have been the vessel that towed the houseboat from near Boulder Bank Drive yesterday. This morning it was sitting midway between two of the Boulder Bank baches, opposite the end of Akersten St.

But if Jepson thinks that moving the houseboat that he built at low cost from recycled timber, iron and drums will give him a breathing space, he might have to think again.

Harbourmaster Dave Duncan said this morning he hadn't studied the court judgment in detail or been briefed by the council, but he doubted that moving it would comply.


"I don't think his shifting it will make any difference. I'm hoping he's taken it to a place where it's easier to remove," he said.

He would take a look today to see if the houseboat presented any danger to navigation.

At the hearing Judge Brian Dwyer ruled the houseboat was a structure that fell within the definition of "fixed" because it had been held in place by two anchors for about six weeks, and that it was not a boat, because it did not have a steering system. He was satisfied that it was intended for occupation, he said.

Jepson built his houseboat on stilts last year before cutting it free and moving to the northern end of the Haven, where it suffered some storm damage.

Through Muzz he told the Mail two months ago that he had no job and no benefit and had built his floating home in the hope that he could use it to live quietly.

It was fitted out with a bed, a pot-bellied stove and a rainwater collection system but did not appear to have a waste collection system, something noted by the judge.

Built without resource consent or any official sanction it drew a number of complaints from the public, and Jepson - who threw rocks at a Mail photographer in September - ignored an abatement notice issued by the council, prompting the court action.