Couple have no regrets about Hamilton move

Two years after quake, a new life in Fairfield

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2013
BETTER PROSPECTS: Paul and Margarette Reti relocated to Hamilton from Christchurch after the quake.
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
BETTER PROSPECTS: Paul and Margarette Reti relocated to Hamilton from Christchurch after the quake.

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This is what a Kiwi fish and chip shop should look like, Paul Reti says, motioning to the traditional white, blue and red decor of his store in Fairfield, Hamilton.

He and his wife Margarette would know. They have had six others just like it but the previous one, in St Albans, Christchurch, was very nearly their last.

When the February earthquake ripped through the city in 2011, the couple were faced with a choice - keep operating their fish and chip shop without insurance cover, or sell up and move on.

Like numerous other insurance companies grappling with the immensity of Christchurch claims, the firm providing insurance for their business was reluctant to extend cover.

"They told us: ‘Unless we get three months without an earthquake of magnitude five, we won't reinsure you'," Mrs Reti said.

"So if we had another big quake, we would have no business and no money. So what do you do?"

Despite being spared the worst of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake - the only damage their premises sustained was a temporary disconnection from water and power - there was little they could do to persuade the insurance company.

With aftershocks still regularly rocking the city, they decided the risk was too high, salvaged what they could and moved north.

Now, nearly a year on from their relocation, they are happily ensconced in Hamilton, and behind the counter of Takeaways on Oxford, their seventh fish and chippery.

When the Times dropped in, the couple were busy filling the first wave of Friday's after-work orders.

Decked out in matching red and white check shirts and black shorts, the couple slipped quickly and efficiently between the deep fryer, the phone and the till over the course of our interview.

They've worked seven days a week, almost every week since they opened the shop in June last year.

It's working out well, Mrs Reti said, and it is unlikely they will go back to Christchurch.

"The business is going well, so why would we leave?"

Mrs Reti admitted she knew nothing of Hamilton before she arrived.

"I had no idea what to expect. It was all new to us. We would get lost all the time in the first couple of weeks."

After staying with some of Mr Reti's family for a few weeks, the couple have finally settled in Silverdale.

If the business continues to do well, they might buy a property in Hamilton, Mrs Reti said.

They find it tough not being able to see their close family, all of whom are still in Christchurch.

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Despite growing up in Huntly, Mr Reti said there was nothing in particular that drew him back to the Waikato

"I could have gone anywhere. There was no preference. We were just happy to have a business out of Christchurch."

- Waikato Times

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