Hospital squatters get more time

03:34, Aug 13 2012
tdn hospital stand
Part of the old Barrett Street Hospital where squatters are living and have been evicted.

Squatters facing eviction from the Barrett St hospital have received a short reprieve.

Justice Ministry officials said yesterday the occupiers had been given an extension on a case-by- case basis.

Some had already been rehoused by the ministry.

Darren Hulton, who lives with his partner and 19-year-old son in premises formerly occupied by Sport Taranaki, said they had until Wednesday to leave. Initially they had been told to be out by Thursday last week.

Mr Hulton requested the extension in an email, saying he was writing on behalf of families from five different parts of the complex.

He said families were struggling to find alternative accommodation within the timeframe and deteriorating weather meant it was hard to move household items.


Mr Hulton said he and his family had been fortunate to have found alternative accommodation to which they planned to move.

His "home" at the hospital consisted of one of the three buildings from which Sport Taranaki was based.

He described it as an "open- plan" area with former offices leading off a main room. "It's brilliant."

The family had been there since 2008. He understood they were initially paying rent to property managers DTZ and more latterly Darroch Ltd, who ran the property on behalf of the Office of Treaty Settlements. Their status as illegal or legal tenants was debatable as far as he was concerned.

He did not want to disclose how much rent the family paid but said it was a "fair amount." He claimed he was also part of the security team at the hospital, working 24 hours to keep an eye on the place.

Ministry of Justice acting property and security general manager Fraser Gibbs said the occupiers lived in seven areas of the hospital.

"We have rehoused some people successfully at other New Plymouth properties."

Others at the complex had been given more time to leave, although as each case varied he was unable to give specific dates.

Taranaki Daily News understands there are 14 adults, four teenagers of working age and two young children living in those seven areas at the hospital.

In previous reports some families said they had been unaware that they had been squatting because they had been paying rent in what they thought had been a legitimate agreement.

Other tenants have been asked to find alternative accommodation with the site due to close before the end of the year.

Assessments and engineering reports of the complex show that it poses a risk to tenants in the case of a serious earthquake.

Announcements of the decommissioning were made last week.

Taranaki Daily News