Life goes on for Boulder Bank boatbuilder

BILL MOORE
Last updated 09:39 30/04/2014
houseboat
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

DEFIANT PROCLAMATION: Paul Jepson's houseboat, due to be removed from Nelson Haven by the city council next week, with "Life will go on long after money'' painted on the structure's side.

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Nelson’s maverick houseboat builder is showing a philosophical bent, painting ‘‘Life will go on long after money’’ on the outer wall of his condemned floating home.

With just over a week remaining before the Nelson City Council says it will remove the ramshackle houseboat, owner Paul Jepson has moved it close to the Maitai River’s outlet into the haven.

Today it was moored near Whakatu Drive, where motorists could catch a glimpse of his defiant proclamation.

Harbourmaster Dave Duncan said he had visited the houseboat but Jepson wasn’t around. He’d later taken council officials out to serve the removal notice, again without the owner being there.  The notice was nailed to the door.

After a hearing two weeks ago which Jepson didn’t attend and wasn’t represented at, the Environment Court ordered him to remove the houseboat within three weeks or have it confiscated by the council.

Judge Brian Dwyer found that it was a structure without resource consent, being used as a dwelling.

Jepson, who has spurned attempts at interviews and once threw stones at a Nelson Mail photographer, has since moved it several times, perhaps to demonstrate that it isn’t a fixed structure and should be regarded as a boat.

Two other boats remain in the haven on that basis, their owners shifting them from time to time.

Jepson built the houseboat from drums and he obtained for nothing, wooden pallets and recycled corrugated iron. He has fitted it out with a rainwater collection system, a pot-bellied stove and a bed, and through a friend has said he is broke and unemployed, and just wants to live quietly and cheaply on board, out of everyone’s way.

Duncan said he had recently received an an unsigned letter using colourful and salty language telling him to stay away from the houseboat, but did not know who it was from.

‘‘We’re just expecting it to be removed or destroyed, or whatever he wants to do with it.’’

It was unlikely to break up without some assistance from Jepson or the council, Duncan said.

It seems to be pretty well built – it’s certainly withstood some pretty big storms.’’

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