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

NZDF to the rescue video

HMNZS Endeavour heads for Marsden Point oil refinery, to help ease the fuel shortage crisis.

The army, air force and navy will redistribute fuel across the country by land and by sea.

Dental pros win $30m Lotto prize

Tina from Taupō and nine of her friends won Saturday's $30 million Lotto jackpot.

Tina from Taupō and ten of her posse are all smiles after winning enormous Powerball jackpot.

Oversight needed for strategic assets

It's believed a digger blade scored the pipe, causing the leak.

Call for new infrastructure commission in wake of airport fuel line disruption.

Fight for 'exceptional' Okura

The land is owned by Okura Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of Todd Property.

"If we lose this, what on earth is left?" Residents of seaside Okura fight a 1000-home development in court.


WOW is a wild ride video

'Theodore', by Marie Wright and Taralee Freeman, of New Zealand, is modelled in the Weta Workshop Science Fiction section

More than 100 garments made out of everything from bicycle tubes to latex.

Gully earthworks error

Initial estimates were that 6.5m cubic metres of earth would need to be moved. The motorway partnership has now applied ...

Project miscalculates extent of digging needed - but says it's still on schedule.

Protest sign beside man on fire video

Police cordon off the scene outside Parliament House.

Man who set himself on fire at Parliament grounds may have brought sign with him.

$20m Wainuiomata promise

Some of Wainuiomata High School's buildings need to be  replaced, which Labour has promised to do with a $20m investment.

Nats pledged $12m for high school facelift. Labour offers a complete rebuild.


Main parties may get licked video

210917 NEWS Photo: Joseph Johnson/Stuff
India Curtis of Rollickin Gelato with a mixture of their new party ice cream, ...

What's your flavour? Billy Boy or Jacinda Fever?

Third lane approved

Congestion on the northern motorway just south of the Waimakariri Bridge. A third lane for "high occupancy vehicles" has ...

Green light for extra lane and cycleway on the Waimakariri Bridge across SH1.

Astonishing kidnap escape

Police guard a Andrew Cameron's house near Hanmer on Tuesday morning.

With a gun held to his neck, Hanmer kidnap victim jumped from the car he was forced to drive.

Supermarket beer robbery

A man who robbed a Christchurch supermarket was arrested shortly after on Clyde Rd.

Knife-wielding robber threatens supermarket staff before driving off with beer.


Annoyed motorists pan pollies

A New Zealand First supporter promotes the party from a Hamilton traffic island in an image captured by a disgruntled ...

Every street corner features a human political billboard, it seems. But are they legal?

Paint stripper mystery

The car will likely need a new paint job.

In tree-lined suburban Hamilton, a couple scratch their heads as their two cars flake onto the driveway.

Moorby's Top 5 this weekend

The Waikato Cherry Tree Festival will be held on September 23 and 24.

It's election weekend but there's an array of other events on if politics isn't your thing.

Library fix approved

Councillors approved $635,000 to earthquake strengthen the Hamilton Central Library. Another $87,000 will be used to add ...

Hamilton's central library will be brought up to earthquake standards.


Literary icon at KFC?

An artist's impression of what a statue of author Ronald Hugh Morrieson might look like at the site of his Hawera home, ...

Will South Taranaki's womanising literary larrikin be immortalised in a statue?

The 'downhill slide'

11092017 News Photo ANDY JACKSON/STUFF.  The Ticking Timebomb, a series looking at the rising issues of Alzheimers ...

He's forgotten how to peel potatoes but fears forgetting his children most.

Shoplifter stole under staff's noses

The Bunnings store in New Plymouth was targeted twice by a shoplifter, who brazenly walked out with thousands of dollars ...

A shoplifter's booty included a fireplace, clothesline, chainsaw, tools and plumbing gear.

Ever-changing face of Pukeiti gallery video

The Misty Knoll is a "secret garden" with a spiraling path that leads to a tunnel and a grass bowl.

A project costing nearly $5 million has changed the face of a Taranaki garden. So what's all the fuss?


Reward for precious memorial

Flowers and notes were placed as tributes on a lamp post at the scene of the horrific car crash in Levin.

The family of young men have offered a cash reward to get memorial items back.

MP v farmers round 2

Palmerston North Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway maintains he was shoved at a heated meeting.

Iain Lees-Galloway maintains he was shoved. Farmers don't agree.

One killed in crash

Ambulance leaving scene of a fatal crash on state highway 1 near Foxton.

Road reopened after state highway crash that killed one driver.

Saddle Rd smoothed out

The Manawatū Gorge closed in April after several slips.

Motorists say the maintenance work on the Saddle Rd has improved its condition


Blue whale carcass washes ashore gallery video

Blue whale carcass washes ashore at Glenburn Station in Wairarapa.

A dead blue whale first spotted off d'Urville Island has washed up on a Wairarapa beach.

Sexual abuser jailed

A Nelson forestry worker has been sentenced to prison for a number of "serious" sexual offences.

A Nelson forestry worker has been sentenced to prison for a number of "very serious" sexual offences.

Voters angry voting station closed

Victory Community Centre.

Victory voters are angry an advance polling station was not open as advertised.

Gold miners knocked back

Judge Pope, of Canvastown, is pleased the gold mine resource consent has been turned down.

Canvastown mine application expected to make its US owners $7m a year is rejected.


Netballer not ready to call time yet

What it's all about. Former team mates, Bridget Gane and Tokomaru rival Tash Ford, share a laugh in the heat of battle ...

You can't put a price on loyalty.

Miners knocked back

Judge Pope, of Canvastown, is pleased the gold mine resource consent has been turned down.

Proposed mine in the heart of a historic gold rush town expected to make its US owners $7m a year is turned down.

When one door closes..

Business owners Holly Bonnington, right, and Kay Nicholls (centre) at the Sneaky Beach Cafe in Havelock.

The Sneaky Beach Cafe opened this week in Havelock, much to the excitement of locals.

'Taylor-made' for trees

The first planting event in 2014 saw  Marlborough Landscape Group members, from left, Helen Ballinger, Ralph Ballinger ...

 It began as an idea to enhance the river and has branched out into something much bigger.

South Canterbury

A toast to the bicycle video

Graeme Simpson is preparing to take a collection of old bikes to Waimate to celebrate 200 years of the bicycle.

Bicycles of all shapes and sizes to be celebrated in 200th anniversary event.

Air plan approved

South Canterbury Regional Air Plan Liaison Committee chairman Mark Rogers with committee members Doug Cleveland, centre, ...

Grey Power president says it was "too much" to expect woodburner rule to be ditched.

Swaps for councils, schools

Aoraki Development CEO Nigel Davenport, who was invited to go on the delegation to sign the agreement, said it was "a ...

MOU will allow council staff to exchange with  sister city and could bring raft of benefits.

Fundraising for course underway

Riding for The Disable riders and volunteers have been given the opportunity to mix and mingle with one New Zealand's ...

Organisers of fundraiser for new eventing course hope event will be a roaring success.


Highlanders land prop early

Tyrel Lomax played his first game for Tasman last weekend.

Son of former Kiwis league player will join Highlanders next year after Melbourne Rebels cut him loose.

Fears community heart will be lost

Queenstown Arts Centre coordinator Andie King said an art gallery, community groups and workshop spaces should be ...

The council says the location could provide "a combined Council office and a community heart."

Riley Baker memorial to stay?

Dunedin photographer Riley Baker with his partner, Amy McPherson. He died in hospital from injuries after a tourist ...

Mayor tells Dunedin crash victim's family his ashes can stay put, but NZTA says that's not confirmed.

Taylor taking on players half his age

George Taylor plays a shot during the Southland Town vs Country match last season.

Sixty-two-year-old Southland tennis ace George Taylor will be up against players half his age as he prepares for the Seniors World Team Championships in Miami.


Bluff sign bluff

Scottish tourist Geoff Mumford a little confused by the directions for Wellington and Cape Reinga which pointed in ...

Bluff's famous signpost is all over the place.

Voters harassed

Entrance to the polling booth at the Menzies Building on Esk St.

Early voters in Invercargill have been subject to intimidation and verbal abuse on their way to cast their ballots.

70 years and still going strong

John and Joan Welsh with their wedding day photo from 1947.

On September 22, John and Joan Welsh celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Police investigation continues

The police investigation into Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay continues.

Police won't say whether they have interviewed Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay.

Ad Feedback