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Empty CYF house to be sold

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

The gate on number 8 Greenlane Rd is locked shut, and has stayed shut for the past decade.

Now, after sinking an estimated $50,000 in rates and maintenance over the past 10 years to keep the empty Child Youth and Family house, the government is looking to sell it.

A recent official information request to the Ministry of Social Development has revealed the Greenlane Rd property, with a capital value of $610,000, is “subject to disposal”, and has a most recent valuation of $371,000.

The large purpose-built home, which is on a 1.4ha section, was once used by two foster parents caring for eight or nine children.

An estimated $50,000 in rates and maintenance has been sunk into the empty property over the last decade. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
An estimated $50,000 in rates and maintenance has been sunk into the empty property over the last decade. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

Built in the 1970s, the building was a youth centre for three years, before being used to care for children from troubled homes.

It captured media attention in 2011 when long-term Masterton foster parent Peter Teahan accused the ministry of wasting thousands of dollars on the empty home, which could have been spent on needy children instead.

Mr Teahan, who died last week, had said the “beautiful home” needed to be either fixed or sold.
“I remember when it was being used and it was a very good place,” he had said previously.

“It’s got a country atmosphere and it was very successful.
“If you’re not going to use it why keep the thing? Why keep property that’s worth half a million? Why not put it into resources for children?”

At the time, the ministry said the house was unused “because upgrades were needed to the kitchens, living spaces, wet area, bathrooms, and infrastructure, such as plumbing”.

The Wairarapa Times-Age lodged a request for information in June for an update on the property.

Answers were finally supplied this week by Nicholas Pole, deputy chief executive of organisational solutions for the ministry.

Mr Pole said work was underway to “move the property out of the Ministry of Social Development’s ownership”, but he could not say how long it would take to “dispose of” the property.

He said the sale process would include Treaty Settlement obligations, obligations to former owners in terms of the Public Works Act, and other tasks and checks.

He was also unable to provide a breakdown of expenses for the Greenlane Rd house, because ministry staff would have to “manually search files to extract the expenses”.

Instead, he confirmed an operating budget of $6,888 for the year ending June 30, 2016, and said that $14,182 had been spent the three years’ prior on rates and maintenance costs like lawn mowing and tree trimming.

Because “these expenses have little variation year-to-year”, the estimated cost of rates and maintenance since it was last occupied 10 years ago, would be just over $52,000.

As at the end of March 2016, there were 63 approved or provisionally approved CYF caregivers for the Wairarapa, and 59 children or young people in the custody of the Chief Executive.

“As such, there are alternative placements for children in the Wairarapa region without this family home,” Mr Pole said.

“The property is subject to disposal.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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