Hinetau Jury worried she and her seven children were going to end up homeless.
The Hastings mother was living in a privately-rented four-bedroom house. But, after the Covid-19 lockdown, its owner wanted to sell.
“It was really difficult for us to find another home. Everywhere I applied they would say that cause we have so many, no-one would want us in their rental properties,” Jury told Breakfast. She has four biological children, and has fostered seven children at various times over a number of years.
Four days until the family would be forced to move out of their rental property, Jury said she feared she wouldn’t find a place to stay.
“We were thinking we were going to be homeless.”
She was then contacted by Kāinga Ora who told her she had a place to stay: a five-bedroom apartment in a new public housing development in Raureka. Jury moved into the home shortly before Christmas last year.
“I actually felt like somebody from heaven had shone a light on me … everything just lifted off me.
“I broke down in tears. I just couldn’t believe that we had somewhere to stay.”
Jury said she didn’t know at first it was a brand-new house. But, when she found out, she said “we thought we had won Lotto”.
The family’s lawnmowing business is also taking off. At the beginning of last year, they started with two customers. That’s grown to 150, and they do everything from check on neighbours who are their kaumātua to supermarket runs.
Their public house forms part of a 42-home development Raureka. About 30 high-quality, warm and dry homes have been completed. Twelve are in construction.
Hastings’ housing register has grown rapidly and is now the fifth highest per person New Zealand. As of September 2020, 1514 people were approved and were waiting for homes in the region. Māori make up almost 70 per cent of those on the waitlist.
Last week, the Government outlined its housing plan for 2021, reiterating its promise it would build about 240 new houses in Hastings by 2024. This includes 70 transitional housing places by next year.
Hastings District Council Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said she was “really delighted” about the announcement.
But, she said more public housing places were needed. This meant partnering with iwi and local council, who were also developing affordable housing.
“It’s going to take all of us,” Hazlehurst said.