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Fears that council will evict tenant

A woman with serious health problems could become homeless after South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] takes control of the holiday park where she lives.

Robyn Cann has been asked to leave her cabin at Lake Ferry Holiday Park in South Wairarapa today, pending the expected completion of the deal with SWDC.

Cann [60] is an insulin-dependent diabetic who struggles with mental health issues and has impaired vision.

“It’s gut-wrenching,” she said, struggling to hold back tears.

“I’m 60 years old. I can’t afford high rents. It’s a struggle to live.

“I love it here. It’s close to the beach, which I’ve always loved. I love fishing. Everybody is friendly here, they don’t judge me.”

She said the situation sometimes makes her feel desperate.

“If I get like that I go for walks, go fishing, or talk to other people in the campground.

“It’s horrible. My guts are turning all the time because I don’t know where I’m going to go, you know. It’s a horrible feeling. I’m trying to make my life better, but yeah…” her voice trailed off.

“I just want to be settled in one place.”

The news comes as SWDC increases its rates by almost 20 per cent, one of the highest rate hikes in New Zealand this year. Reasons given for the big increase include water infrastructure repairs, roading expenditure, and maintaining service levels.

The Holiday Park deal was noted in public excluded business in the minutes of the council meeting on 7 June as “Lake Ferry Holiday Park Offer Report”.

Cann lives in a compact two-roomed cabin near the lake at the park. She is registered with a local doctor and has nearby clinical support for her medical conditions. She has nowhere to go if forced to vacate and is afraid she might have to move into her car. Driving is an issue because of vision problems.

“I love it here. I want to stay here. It’s nice and quiet,” she said.

“People have been so helpful. They don’t judge me. I can just be my own person. I feel safe.”

Cann needs regular insulin injections to control her diabetes, and the insulin needs refrigeration.

“If I can’t keep it cold, I can’t use it. I’ve got no chilly bin or anything like that,” she said.

Cann also takes medication for depression.

“I’m under a caregiver from Masterton who has been coming out once a week to see me,” she said.

Cann is registered with a medical centre in Featherston and attends a local clinic in Pirinoa.

“The nurse at Pirinoa clinic rings me two or three times a week to see how I am,” she said.

She has cataracts and has been referred to Wairarapa Hospital for treatment.

“I can hardly see out of my right eye, and my left eye is getting there slowly.”

The iconic campsite and holiday park was tipped to sell late last year, but the deal did not finalise at that time.

It has been previously reported that since 2019, SWDC had not granted the camp an operating licence, citing a variety of non-compliance issues with the Camping Grounds Regulations Act 1985.

The council reportedly had said the most notable breach was the proximity of a dozen static caravans or Temporary Living Spaces that presented a fire risk and threat to health and safety.

A spokesperson for SWDC said yesterday the information about Cann’s living situation is new to them, and they have few details at this stage.

“We are unable to comment while we seek further information,” they said.

The spokesperson added SWDC is not resourced to support occupants with serious medical issues in a remote location.

“There are a number of central government agencies that are especially set up for this. The campground is set up for camping, not temporary housing, and we don’t consider the cabins are appropriate for living in long-term.

“We as a council need to comply with the camping ground regulations, which require that occupancy must not be any longer than 50 days. Should we have more information we will let you know at the earliest.”

– NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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