Mum's desperate solution to escape mouldy, rotting Dunedin home

A Dunedin woman who wants to escape her mouldy, cold and rotting home says she faced spending nights in the car with her son as there was nowhere else to go.

Rose, who did not want her full name revealed, and her 12-year-old son moved into the Clyde Hill property in April, but soon discovered mould and water damage as winter settled in.

Rose says she's been forced to live in a Dunedin home that's mouldy because there's nowhere else to go. Source: RNZ / Tess Brunton

She said she was forced to seek emergency housing to escape a damp home that made her family sick.

"I can't stay here because I'm just sick and I'm not eating and I'm stressed and I'm at breaking point," Rose said.

The three-bedroom house was not worth $330 a week when it was just making her and her son sick, she said.

Rose said she fought to get out of the lease, but stayed in the house as there was nowhere else to go.

She applied for several other rental properties, but said there were 20 to 25 people at the viewings she went to.

With no new home to move into, she considered living in her car and approached Work and Income and Housing New Zealand about emergency accommodation.

When RNZ visited the home, there was water damage in the lounge, and most of the wooden window sills were rotten.

Water spots are seen in the home that Rose is renting in Dunedin. Source: RNZ / Tess Brunton

A couple of bowls and towels lay around in case water leaks through - but she said it was absorbed by the rotten wood in the ceiling.

Every time heavy rain or snow is predicted, Rose worries whether her kitchen ceiling will hold up.

"The worst part would probably have to be the kitchen ceiling. Yeah, I have made thumb holes and finger holes by just going to touch and my fingers have gone through it and that's the entire ceiling," Rose said.

"This is my biggest worry that it's going to come down," she said.

"When I first moved in I noticed the moisture and I was told it was because the carpets had been done.

"I needed to move in quickly so they've said that because of that they've let me move in when they weren't done. I never asked for that, I was quite adamant I didn't want to move into a house that was wet."

Rose said she raised the issues with the realtors Mana Property Management, who told her to contact the prime minister if she was not happy.

RNZ made multiple attempts to contact the property's management, Mana Property Management, on Friday without success.

The management group sent her a letter in August saying they would repair the house, including replacing the roof over the kitchen, sending in mould specialists and requesting builder quotes to fix the window sills and stiff windows.

The letter also stated Rose may not have met her responsibilities as a tenant to report damage or keep the house dry.

However, Rose said she ran a dehumidifier and a heat pump on the dry cycle, and aired out the house most days, but it was not working and it was costly.

She said she was considering taking the management group to the Tenancy Tribunal.

Rose wanted the real estate to take responsibility and admit the house should not have been rented out in its current condition.

"I moved into this house in the good faith that going through a real estate agency you were guaranteed a good house, and instead they've just blamed me for it."

Out of options, and facing moving into her car, Rose has been allowed to move into a two-bedroom unit at the retirement village she works at - as a temporary solution until she can find a new home to rent.

New healthy homes standards, which will set minimum requirements for heating, insulation, ventilation and moisture in residential rental properties will be in place by 1 July next year.

- Tess Brunton

Rose says at the touch of her finger the ceiling in the kitchen gives in. Source: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Meet the transgender Wellington school caretaker brightening up kids' days

A transgender caretaker at a Wellington school has been using her musical talents to brighten up the kids' days.

Molly Mason was born as Michael, but soon discovered she was a female born in a man's body.

"I believe I'm a woman, and I associate as a woman, so I live my life as a woman," Molly told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Molly has a love of music that began when she was just six.

Now, in her role as caretaker at a Wellington school, she uses her talent to good effect by beat boxing with the kids at lunchtime.

"When I realised that beat boxing and making sounds was something I couldn't live without, that was it, nothing else mattered."

However, to be this woman - that little boy Michael, had a fight on his hands.

"I got bullied from primary school right through until the day I left college and left Blenheim."

Molly is now proud to be transgender and says the stage is her safe place. She performs as her drag alter ego called Bette Noir.

"Anything that makes me sad, makes me worried, makes me scared, anything that I find stressful, it's not there, it's gone." 

Seven Sharp’s Arrun Soma spoke with Molly Mason. Source: Seven Sharp

Ministry of Justice union members strike, launching a month of industrial action over pay

Court security officers and Family Court coordinators are among Ministry of Justice employees going on strike for two hours nationwide today as they start more than four weeks of industrial action over pay.

Ministry of Justice members of the Public Service Association will strike from 10.30am to 12.30pm today.

PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay said on Monday that eleventh hour meetings were held between the PSA Bargaining Team and Ministry of Justice to reach a resolution but no movement on fundamental pay issues was offered.

He said the union is seeking an outcome that ensures members including court security officers, registry officers, victim advisors, court reporters and Family Court coordinators are reasonably paid. 

The ministry’s own engagement survey shows that only a third of staff feel valued for the work that they do, with a clear impact on recruitment and retention issues across the ministry, Mr Barclay said. 

He said the ministry offered the third lowest average salary in the public sector last year and the PSA believes this is being worsened. 

As well as strike action today, the employees will ban overtime, only work contracted hours of work and take common breaks until October 19 "to push for fair pay systems and a modest across-the-board pay increase," Mr Barclay said.

Kaitaia, New Zealand - August 18, 2014: Kaitaia District/Family Court outdoor sign and symbol. It is the most northern District Court in new zealand
Kaitaia District Court. Source:


Netsafe won't pursue Sir Ray Avery's complaint over media website

Scientist and entrepreneur Sir Ray Avery will have to go to the district court if he wants to pursue his complaint about media website Newsroom any further.

Sir Ray complained to Netsafe under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, regarding five articles Newsroom had published about fundraising he was doing for his LifePod inventions, and about his other past products.

He said the articles caused him severe emotional distress and amounted to harassment and digital harm under the Act.

Newsroom has refused to take the articles down.

Netsafe Director Martin Cocker said there isn't anything more Netsafe can do through mediation.

"As soon as one party says, you know they're not prepared to engage in the process, then that's a pretty strong sign that it's time for Netsafe to conclude its process."

That mediation process is a mandatory first step under the Act, and most Harmful Digital Communications Act complaints are sorted at this point.

However Mr Cocker said the main thing they do to get resolution, is to advise parties on what the likely legal ramifications are of different actions that they might take.

In this case, Mr Cocker said, there is not clarity in the Act about how these particular cases should be handled.

"It is for the court to set that precedent, so our recommendation is that has to happen," he said.

Mr Cocker said if they did not feel they could progress the case, their advice was to consider taking it to the district court. But he said that was "entirely optional" for the complainant.

By Gia Garrick

Newsroom is standing by its reporting on the former New Zealander of the Year, and questioning the method of the complaint.
Sir Ray Avery. Source: 1 NEWS

What to do and what not to do if you come across a kiwi in the wild

A rare daytime encounter with a kiwi on the Heaphy Track got TVNZ1's Seven Sharp thinking - what to do and what not to do when you come across the native bird in the wild.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it's pretty unusual for these nocturnal birds to be out during sunshine hours.

As we all know kiwi don't fly so escaping predators can be pretty tricky. An average of 27 are killed every week, so we've got to be pretty careful around them.

DOC gave Seven Sharp some important tips to remember if you encounter one of these unique birds.

Firstly stay still and just enjoy the rare experience. Stay a few metres away and don't worry if they approach you, just keep still.

Second, don't move towards the bird or try to pick it up - it's an offence to hold kiwi without permission from DOC.

Also, be weary of their sharp claws - they're wild animals and can get stroppy.

Lastly, feel free to take photos or video, but only in low light conditions and don't use a flash as it can stun the birds.

An encounter with one of the birds on the Heaphy Track got us thinking. Source: Seven Sharp