Family faces eviction from illegal camp site

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DESPERATE: Whiti Tahitahi, Gaylene Falwasser and Brad Sparks believe they have been unfairly treated and now have no where to go. Photo Kathy Forsyth D6019-04

A FAMILY is waiting to be evicted from an illegal camp ground in Matata which has no running water, power, or ablutions.

The council has told the landowner, Michele Beach of Matata, to remove the “tenants” after it received complaints from neighbours that people living on the land were using the bush as toilets and that their dogs were running around.

The family includes 55-year-old Gaylene Falwasser, who is ill with a heart condition, her partner Brad Sparks and her son and his family. They all share a caravan on the site. Ms Falwasser’s sister, Adrianne Renata, has another caravan on the site.

They have all been served with eviction notices by Ms Beach and yesterday afternoon police were at the site and the family members were waiting to be moved off.

They said they were expecting the owner of the company they rented one of the caravans off to arrive at any time to tow it away.

They have been paying $300 a week for the caravan on a rent-to-buy scheme and have been paying Ms Beach rent for their two sites of $30 and $50 a week.

Ms Falwasser said she was on a benefit and Work and Income was paying for the caravan rental.

They said they had not paid rent for the site for the past few weeks after hearing they would be evicted.

Other families also live on the site. “The other two caravans have been allowed to stay,” Ms Falwasser said.

Ms Falwasser denied they were being a nuisance. She said they were using solar power to operate a stove in their caravans. One caravan had a toilet and a shower. They had also erected a long-drop toilet on the site.

Ms Renata said all they asked was that due process be followed in the eviction, but Ms Beach and her son, Jamie Magee, had refused to communicate with them, other than issuing eviction notices.

She said she was issued with an eviction notice after she asked for receipts for the rent she had paid, and a tenancy agreement.
She said the family had nowhere to go.

The family said they gave their rent to Mr Magee, who was the “camp manager”.
Ms Renata said she was very concerned that the stress caused by the furore was making her sister ill. Ms Falwasser was in hospital recently with heart failure and a nurse comes out daily to see her.

However, Ms Beach said she had been ordered by Whakatane District Council to remove the tenants from her 1000 square metre piece of land.
She said she first allowed Ms Falwasser to move on to the land as a favour as she was a friend of her son, who lived on the land in a bus.

“Then her partner came, and then her son and his family came,” Ms Beach said.
“It has grown to an unsightly mess.

“This is not a camp site. We don’t have water here or ablutions and council will take me to the environmental court – they will do me for not having these things.“They have to go.”

Ms Beach said her family had owned the land since the 1950s.

“I am gutted. I can’t go down and enjoy my beach section with them down there. They have even put up an illegal long drop.”

The council told the Beacon yesterday its involvement in the matter was as a result of a formal complaint by neighbours about the land being used as an unofficial “camp ground”.

“The use of an undeveloped, residential-zone property as a ‘camp ground’ is inappropriate because the activity involved is incompatible with both the zoning and the services available – no water or wastewater connections, for example.

“We have therefore asked the owners to have the campers vacate the property and it appears that request is now being put into effect.”

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