Lewis Stanton on life after the street as negotiations continue

A new life for Lewis: The peace process for 'Hone Ma Heke' continues and he looks to convince the council to let him ...
MARTIN DE RUYTER

A new life for Lewis: The peace process for 'Hone Ma Heke' continues and he looks to convince the council to let him have his lifestyle back.

Lewis Stanton is enjoying the quiet life.

Three weeks after ending his long-running protest on Trafalgar St, Stanton is in temporary accommodation in Nelson.

"There is a lot more peace and tranquility," Stanton said of his new surroundings.

That was in marked contrast to the rising abuse directed at him in the lead-up to a new city bylaw banning rough sleeping this month.

However, he misses the comings and goings of the city, the people he'd interact with, and "Stumpy" the seagull - a bird without webbed feet who Stanton would feed.

"Hell yes I miss all that," he said.

READ MORE:
*Nelson's city amenity bylaw passed, banning sleeping rough in CBD
*Why Lewis Stanton won't go away
*Permit to protest? Nelsonians say 'no way' to city council

The Nelson City Council's City Amenity Bylaw took effect on September 11. It was a spur for the council and Stanton to renew talks about a permanent solution to their stand-off.

Stanton had been living outside Farmers for nearly two years, protesting over the loss of his horse and cart and an earlier blanket trespass from city land.

Community advocate Sean Thomas is helping Stanton in negotiations and has also become Stanton's "legal agent", liaising with agencies including Work and Income and the Ministry of Social Development,.

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He has even helped Stanton apply for formal identification.

Stanton said there was more goodwill on the part of the council and he had increased confidence things might succeed.

"I feel that it's definitely a work in progress... it's more relaxed than some of the previous encounters."

Stanton has always said he wants his lifestyle back - which involved him moving around with his horse and cart, his alternative to a "conventional house with a conventional telephone".

The council and Stanton are now talking through what that might involve; in other words, how he can have his choice of lifestyle, but cooperate with the community and council.

Stanton's cart is being assessed by a community group, but there's no indication as to what agreement might be reached regarding a horse. His previous horse Barney was removed from him by the SPCA in 2015.

Despite the uncertainty, Stanton is thinking about what he might do on the other side of negotiations.

"The way that the laws have changed over the last five years, I may not be able to do things quite to the same extent as I was doing before in my lifestyle, but at least having my lifestyle is one of those choices that we all have to make in life." 

Councillor Kate Fulton, who has been involved in the talks, said it had been "sad" to see some Nelsonians respond negatively to the council's efforts, particularly on social media.

"I think it's quite upsetting when you have one group of people demand we do something, and then we try and action in a empathetic way and you still have that same group of people up in arms," Fulton said. 

"It's very distressing to me to see how other people can dehumanize someone."

But Fulton had been encouraged to see a "culture shift" in the council's response, particularly through acting chief executive David Hammond's approach to the situation.

Hammond said mediation was progressing in "small steps" with Stanton.

He confirmed the council had provided Stanton with "some of the things he needs", and had worked with parties to find "alternative funding" while they worked towards a permanent solution.

Hammond said they were working towards a "letter of understanding" between Stanton and the council, but there were some "tricky agenda" items to negotiate, including Stanton's potential access to reserves and his previous legal action against the council.

In the meantime, Stanton is watching some "boring" tv, going for walks, and has been showing off his magic tricks when Thomas' children visit.

"The message I was trying to get to the young fella is that each and every one us, we all have our own little bits of magic within us."

 

 - Stuff

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