Tracey Harris, who lost her baby son in Christchurch earthquake, becomes homeless video


Tracey Harris lost her 8-month-old son Jayden after a television fell on him during the February 2011 earthquake. She has been homeless since February.

Six years after the earthquake killed her baby, Tracey Harris has found herself homeless.

Since February, she has lived in a car, with relatives and, this week, in a motel unit. 

Harris, whose 8-month-old son, Jayden, died after a television fell on him in the February 2011 earthquake, admits she has not always been the best tenant, but says she needs a home to turn her life around.

Tracey Harris, lost her eight month old boy during the February 2011 earthquake, has been homeless since her Housing NZ ...

Tracey Harris, lost her eight month old boy during the February 2011 earthquake, has been homeless since her Housing NZ tenancy was ended.

"Our life was almost perfect. Then, in a matter of seconds, everything changed for the worse, and nothing's been consistently good since," she said. "I need a house to fight to get my kids back, get my life on track and be stable."

Mother clings to happy memories
Twins bring sweet rebirth
Farewells for more Christchurch earthquake victims
Christchurch people in dire need of homes

The Tenancy Tribunal ended Harris' tenancy in a Housing New Zealand (HNZ) home in February due to arrears of $1836. She had been living there since July 2012. Property damage of $3160 was found.

Jayden Harris was 8 months when he lost his life in the February 2011 earthquake when a tv fell on him.

Jayden Harris was 8 months when he lost his life in the February 2011 earthquake when a tv fell on him.

Harris and her then partner, who lived in the house since October 2014, could not find anywhere to stay so spent several weeks living in his Mitsubishi Legnum. 

Since then, Harris has spent time living in the car, with relatives and in temporary emergency housing facilities, while struggling to find a permanent home. 

"I was applying every single day on Trade Me for houses, but I learned the hard way that landlords expect you to have a perfect credit history, perfect references and to be working."

Tracey Harris said she needs a house to "fight to get my kids back, get my life on track and be stable".

Tracey Harris said she needs a house to "fight to get my kids back, get my life on track and be stable".

She said losing her son in the earthquake sent her into a spiral of post traumatic stress disorder and depression. 

Ad Feedback

"It took me 12 months to even have a clear head," she said. 

"If I could end up like [Deputy Prime Minister] Paula Bennett, where she came from being a single mother, very young, on the benefit, state house, to where she is now, I'd be happy."

Tracey Harris and her twin daughters Kaylee and Alexis in 2013.

Tracey Harris and her twin daughters Kaylee and Alexis in 2013.

Harris has six living children, two of whom were born before the quake.

Her twin daughters Kaylee and Alexis, born in 2013, gave Harris hope and purpose, until her relationship with their father ended in 2014. The twins live with their father. 

Harris does not work because of her depression and attends regular counselling sessions. Her mental health issues mean her children do not live with her. 

She and her former partner got behind with the rent at the HNZ property when he lost his job, she said.

He paid the $180-a-week rent while Harris put her Working for Families benefit towards her children, she said.

After weeks in the car, Harris and her then partner stayed with his aunt out of "sheer desperation". After about a month they could no longer stay there so went back to living in the car. 

"I got very, very sick to the point that I missed two weeks of contact with my kids … I ended up at the doctor twice. I ended up with bronchitis and a chest infection."

In May, Harris successfully applied for emergency accommodation assistance so they could stay in a motel, before being moved to a transitional housing placement. 

This ended when her relationship broke up and she had to find other accommodation options. She spent a couple of weeks with family then moved into a motel on Friday through WINZ support. 

She said her accommodation is only paid for until Friday. After that, Harris does not know what she will do. If she cannot find somewhere by then, she would be moved to another motel, and have to start paying for accommodation at a subsidised rate, she said. 

She said the situation caused "a lot of stress".  

Harris has been suspended from renting a Housing New Zealand home for a year, as this was the second time she went into arrears in 10 years of renting their houses. 

She had caused $3875 worth of damage at a previous HNZ property, HNZ area manager Robin Mason said.

Mason said they "repeatedly" tried to engage with Harris to sustain her most recent tenancy.

"Most tenants look after their houses, pay their rent on time and are respectful of their neighbours.

"We expect all tenants to treat their tenancy respectfully."

He said HNZ tried to engage with Harris both before and after the Tenancy Tribunal hearing.

MSD regional director service delivery Canterbury Shane Carter said they were in regular contact with Harris to discuss her housing needs, but understood the stress of her situation and her ongoing health concerns might make it hard for her to talk with them. 

"We encourage her to keep talking with us so we can look at suitable options for her."

Carter said Harris contacted them in November 2016 to discuss help for rent arrears. MSD told her what was needed for the application, but she did not supply it.

"When she called to apply for this assistance again, in February, the details of her tenancy were being considered by the Tenancy Tribunal. 

"We asked that she provide us with confirmation that she could remain in this property if the arrears were paid, but we did not receive this."

He said Harris put in an application for MSD's social housing register when her relationship ended, which was reviewed several times because of changes in her circumstances.

"Now she has confirmed her situation with us, we have been able to complete her application."

As of June 2017, the mean time for someone to be housed through the register was 116 days.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers

Cycleway must be included: court

Moir Hill will be the centre of a proposed development removing pine forest and replanting with natives

The prospect of being able to cycle through regenerating bush on a trail from Warkworth to Puhoi has come a step closer.

National wins Auckland

Nikki Kaye was ready for a "tough fight" for Auckland central electorate and she got one from Labour rookie Helen White.

A nasty scare in Central Auckland could have cost National the country's biggest city, but they still landed on top.

Maungakiekie sticks with National

Likely National MP Denise Lee says she feels incredibly humbled that people in the community have given her their vote ...

Auckland bellwether remains National's with Green and Labour splitting the Left's vote.

First fuel down the line

The fuel pipeline from the Marsden Point Refinery to south Auckland, which crippled New Zealand air travel after ...

Freshly-repaired pipe delivers its first batch of jet fuel in 10 days to Auckland Airport.


Hutt South turns blue

Chris Bishop with his partner Jenna Raeburn at the Hutt South electorate party in ...

National's Chris Bishop takes out Labour stronghold by wooing the people of Wainuiomata.

Capital painted red video

Wellington City deputy mayor Paul Eagle comfortably won the Rongotai seat with 16,983 votes.

Wellington's electoral candidates painted the capital red on Saturday night.

Scott survives despite vote swing

National's Alastair Scott has retained his Wairarapa seat and will enter his second term in Parliament.

National's Alastair Scott holds Wairarapa despite majority being cut by 4025 votes.

Opportunity lost for Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan called on the Green Party to join National in the new government, rather than represent the environment ...

TOP leader lashes out at selfish instinct of voters as evidence-based populism fails this election.


All Blacks' guard's $225k tax bill

Security consultant Jayson Ryan has admitted charges of aiding and abetting his three companies to apply tax deductions ...

Jayson Ryan's sold his home to pay back the debt. He also has to service a sentence of home detention.

Live: The aftermath

Jacinda Ardern fronts for questions on what's next for Labour.

There's been no clear result. NZ First's Winston Peters faces a choice: support National or join a Labour-Green bloc.

Webb's in, Wagner's out video

Labour's victorious Christchurch Central candidate Duncan Webb shares a moment with Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson at the ...

Canterbury remains relatively static from the 2014 election – except for one important seat.

Gone without a trace

Missing Dunedin man Stephen Lowe.

Police divers are searching a waterfall and river for missing man Stephen Lowe, last seen leaving work more than a week ago.


Mahuta romps home

Nanaia Mahuta took at swipe at the Maori Party after she crushed her opponent in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

Māori Party no competition for Labour's Nanaia Mahuta in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

Hamilton backs blue video

Hamilton East National MP David Bennett receives congratulations from Hamilton East Labour candidate Jamie Strange after ...

It's a clean sweep for National in Hamilton, with David Bennett and Tim Macindoe fending off two Labour rookies.

A timely drop in Waikato's 'ocean'

Eliza Webster, who commutes twice weekly to Auckland for university, is counting on a commuter rail between Auckland, ...

National's spending promises are timely for the growing Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

First-time MP romps in

Tim van de Molen says he is more than up to the challenges ahead of him.

National Waikato candidate Tim van de Molen won the Waikato seat with ease.


Taranaki continue to move forward and up

Kane Thompson made his first start for Taranaki against Hawke's Bay.

Coach delighted to end four decades of misery.

The mystery 400,000

22092017 Feature Photo: JASON DORDAY/STUFF Election night 2017, New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters Speaks to ...

There's 15 per cent of the votes still to be counted. .

Young keeps NP seat

Jonathan Young, with wife Maura, at the election party held at The Plymouth Hotel.

National's Jonathan Young has retaken seat with 49.7% of the vote.

The possible coalitions video

James Shaw reached out to Winston Peters in his speech and could yet have a big part to play.

Labour don't necessarily need the Greens as partners and National could choose to govern alone. We dissect all the possibilities.


Winners are grinners video

Ian McKelvie is the National candidate for the Rangītikei electorate.

National candidate Ian McKelvie has won Rangitīkei comfortably.

Fourth time around

Iain Lees-Galloway has easily won the Palmerston North seat for the fourth time.

Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway has emphatic election win in Palmerston North.

Ōtaki, Whanganui staying blue

National MP Nathan Guy has kept his Ōtaki seat, easily.

Nathan Guy and Harate Hipango set to retain electorates for National.

Tamati tackled short of line

Te Tai Hauauru Maori Party candidate Howie Tamati with supporter Jack Niwa

Touted as a possible kingmaker before the election, Howie Tamati trails in his electorate.


Smiths wins Nelson, O'Connor takes West Coast-Tasman


Rachel Boyack, Labour Part candidate concedes to Nick Smith, Nelson MP ...

Nelson and West Coast Tasman MPs retained their seats.

Funding input sought

A  project that would require further input is funding for "enhancements to Marahau".

Motueka's residents have one more week to tell their community board on how to spend their money.

New group to fight "P" launched

The support group has been arranged by Community Connect, an organisation of volunteers set up to fight what it calls ...

Support group for people affected by "P" will hold meeting in Nelson on Monday.

'I can't afford to live in NZ'

Nelson woman Christine Irvine had to sell her car to pay for health treatments. She's moving to Australia with National ...

Moving to Australia is the only way one Nelson woman sees a better future after National's win.


Freight hub to keep trucking

The container transfer site was upgraded to a 24/7 freight hub in a matter of days after the earthquake.

After the earthquake, they started working 24/7 loading and unloading more than 100 trucks a day.

Smith cleans up

National's Stuart Smith has been re-elected in Kaikōura.

Stuart Smith wins easily in Kaikōura

Grants help unlock walkways

NZ Walking Access Commission chief executive Eric Pyle walks Daltons Track between Daltons Bridge and Pelorus Bridge. ...

Kiwi's love of the outdoors is being supported by cash as more funding for walkway access is up for grabs.

Next 'cultural treasure'

Weaver and artist Peg Moorhouse says it is important to recognise the great talent in Marlborough.

"Extraordinary", "inspiring" and "significant" are just some of the criteria for the Living Cultural Treasure Award.

South Canterbury

Mojo Mathers: 'I made a difference'

Green MP Mojo Mathers, who has been an MP since 2011, admitted she was " disappointed" with the Green Party's result, ...

Jo Luxton "rapt" after party confirmed seat, but "devastated" Mojo Mathers not returning.

Falloon takes seat video

Green Party candidate Mojo Mathers watches the first results come in with members of her campaign team, from left, Ray ...

National's Andrew Falloon has won the Rangitata seat, but National's majority is down.

Leatigaga hat-trick sinks N Otago

South Canterbury captain Kieran Coll with the Hanan Shield after defeating North Otago in the Heartland Championship.

South Canterbury have the edge on neighbours North Otago to retain Hanan Shield.

Dean comfortably wins Waitaki

National Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean addresses her supporters at an election night function at the Oamaru Opera House after ...

Jacqui Dean wins a fifth term in Parliament


Two MPs for Clutha-Southland

Clutha-Southland New Zealand First candidate Mark Patterson watches his leader Winston Peters, give his coalition speech ...

Clutha-Southland has a new New Zealand First MP, Lawrence farmer Mark Patterson.

Revealing ancient and heavenly stories at Cardrona

Cardrona astronomy guide Alex Thom peers through Cardrona's new telescope.

Cardrona Alpine Resort is reaching for the skies with its new visitor attraction.

Flames beat back rescuers

The fire was in one unit in a block of four.

Neighbours reportedly tried to rescue the occupant of a Dunedin flat where a person died overnight.

Woman rescued, police thank app

A Christchurch woman was found on Ben Lomond, near Queenstown, about 12am on Friday.

A Christchurch woman was rescued from a Queenstown mountain after her husband tracked her location through a phone app.


Live: The day after the election

Jacinda Ardern fronts for questions on what's next for Labour.

Jacinda Ardern says it's not over yet on the election front and most Kiwis voted for change.

South's election night

It was all smiles for Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie, pictured here with her husband Mark Billcliff.

Invercargill will have two MPs in Parliament, Labour's Liz Craig and National's Sarah Dowie.

Craig will become Labour list MP

Invercargill Labour Candidate Dr Liz Craig is set to become a list MP after the 2017 general election.

Invercargill Labour candidate Dr Liz Craig lost the battle for the Invercargill electorate seat but will still become an MP.

Ria Bond to leave parliament

NZ First Invercargill candidate Ria Bond with her father Ariki Hoterene-Shortland at the Kelvin Hotel in Invercargill.

There were tears of disappointment for former MP Ria Bond.

Ad Feedback