Peggy, 90, wants home fixed before dying

ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 06:47 27/03/2014
Peggy Holdthuson
IAIN MCGREGOR/ Fairfax NZ

STILL WAITING: Peggy Holdthuson, 90, wants her house fixed before she dies.

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Ninety-year-old Peggy Holdthuson has waited in limbo for three years for her cherished family home to be repaired - only to be told her insurance company had no idea her claim even existed.

She grew up in her parents' New Brighton home in the 1920s. She inherited the house when she got married, and brought up two daughters there.

Holdthuson has myriad health issues. She has fought and overcome cancer, she has been hospitalised twice for pneumonia in "the last few years", and she is now in hospital again for an unrelated illness.

She wants her home fixed for one reason.

"I want to see it fixed before I die."

Yet, she still waits.

Yesterday, when The Press approached her insurer, State Insurance, about why Holdthuson was still waiting, spokeswoman Renee Walker admitted the company did not know the claim had been passed to them by the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

"We have found out today that Peggy was actually paid a cap payment by EQC in June 2013 and has been waiting patiently for something to happen.

"Unfortunately we never received settlement notes from EQC, and therefore were not aware the claim was now over cap and ours to manage."

The insurance company has pledged to have contractors at her home this week.

An EQC spokeswoman said Holdthuson's claim was passed to State Insurance in the middle of last year.

Holdthuson felt the EQC and insurance companies in Christchurch were "pushing elderly aside", and she is not alone.

The Press has this week spoken to several elderly residents still waiting for fixes for their homes - believed to be a small portion of more than 85 elderly people EQC considered "vulnerable" suffering the same fate.

"I know I'm 90, but I'm still alert in my mind," Holdthuson said.

"They say they're helping the elderly, but they really aren't helping us at all."

After the February quake, Holdthuson's Baker St property was inundated with liquefaction. She said her house needed to be lifted for foundation repairs.

She said EQC initially told her the repairs would be done at the beginning of this year, but she has not heard back from them.

"I can't understand why I've had to wait all this time. I'm just wondering if it's because of my age that they're not going to fix my house."

She has two heat pumps in her house to keep warm, which come with a "huge" power bill. She receives Meals on Wheels and has a carer who helps her shower.

She now thinks EQC wants her to die so "they don't have to fix my house".

"All I want them to do is ring and say they'll do my house. I think I deserve to after all I've been through in my life."

She is now worried what might happen if she gets sick one time too many in the house.

"What worries me is if I get pneumonia again.

"I really want to live to see my house fixed."

Walker said Holdthuson's case highlighted the need to support the vulnerable.

"Now that we are aware of the claim we will prioritise the repair.

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- The Press

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