Family battles to keep bach

04:04, Apr 02 2014
readers gallery
UNRESERVED: Ligar Bay view, showing the council road reserve on the left sided. John Massey’s bach can be seen in the foreground, marked by X. INSET: Massey has just finished tearing down his bach.

A Golden Bay family are making a stand to save their beachfront bach from demolition.

Garth and Lesley Bray's bach at Ligar Bay has been their family home for 24 years, where they raised their three sons.

But along with seven other baches built on Tasman District Council road reserve land in the 1940s and 1950s, it's time is up.

readers gallery
MAKING A STAND: Leslie and Garth Bray outside the Ligar Bay bach, which has been their home for 24 years.

As part of a 1989 agreement the baches were given 25-year leases that ran out on Monday, with the council requiring owners to demolish them.

The other long-term bach resident, John Massey, finished knocking down his beloved piece of Kiwiana with the help of friends yesterday, but the Brays are determined to stay.

Tristan Bray, who grew up in the bach with his two brothers, has come home from Australia to support his parents. Another brother has come back from Britain. Their home remains intact and they intend for it to remain that way for as long as possible.


"Basically, we're ignoring what the council are saying. The fact is in New Zealand we're tearing down houses that are perfectly livable and safe, while we're losing houses to earthquakes and floods," Tristan Bray said. He also questioned the sustainability of demolishing so many livable houses around New Zealand.

"I'm ashamed of my council for not extending the leases on these homes. John Massey, a gifted and much valued healer. My parents, a primary school teacher and mental health worker. All and all, community servants. Golden Bay's community needs are not being met by the TDC," he said.

He said the council had told his family to demolish the house by March 31, but first they had to apply for a building permit.

"So we ignored it and then they wrote back and said there had been a change in plans and we no longer need a building permit to demolish our house."

Tristan Bray questioned the rights of engineers to change their mind and policies so easily when it suited them.

"This is the house I grew up in, my brothers too, it's on the beachfront. I would like my parents to stay here, and we have to pull it down. Imagine how you'd feel."

John Massey spent a week, with the help of many friends, to pull down his old bach. "I've found a lot of people have memories of this house and its history, it's quite sad, it's kind of more than my place. I really appreciate the way people have responded.

"They've brought food. It's like a community event, there's been lots of generosity."

He had lived in the house for 27 years, and had mixed feelings about its demise. "Life carries on. It's like a deathing. It's not just about my place, it's about this aspect of Kiwiana. So there's lots of sadness about that.

"The whole of Ligar Bay appeared impromptu like, it's often the way baches are set up."

Council spokesman Chris Choat said the Bray family was ignoring an agreement entered into knowingly with the Golden Bay County Council and later the Tasman District Council.

"The agreements are long-standing, since 1989, the validity of which was tested in 2011," he said.

It was long recognised that the baches had to come down.

"This is not about livability or safety, they are not connected to the current wastewater or stormwater systems as are other houses in the immediate area and have not been charged for that amenity due to the short-term nature of the agreement."

Choat said the baches and surrounding gardens had been occupying public land for many years and the time had come for the land to once again be available for everyone, not just a privileged few to occupy under favourable conditions. He said a building permit had never been required in this case.

The council had notified that the only condition required for a consent to demolish was the archaeological certificate from Historic Places Trust. The council agreed to undertake this process on behalf of the bach owners.