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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Reluctant to leave the land they love

Staying put in a forsaken neighbourhood

Reluctant to leave the land they love

Last updated 05:00 09/03/2011
Avonside resident Colleen Waru walks around her former prize-winning, but now ravaged, garden.

It used to be full of flowers, including towering sun blooms, and enough vegetables to feed her and husband Bob (Ngati Porou) with plenty left over for others.

"It looked like a tropical island," she says.

Bracken St once resounded with the sounds of children playing and birdlife in the Avon River, only a house and road-width away. Now it is quiet.

She needs to be near water, but even the soothing sight of the river is denied her.

The police have told her to stay away from the river bank as a precaution against falling trees.

After the September earthquake, which she calls the Hulk, the house was shifted off its foundations. This month's "killer" earthquake twisted the house further and it trembles even with the footfall of the couple's puppy.

Silt up to their knees covered the driveway and garden.

Waru is frightened, but loves the area and wants to stay.

That won't be possible. The Warus' property is an almost certain candidate for demolition and abandonment.

The Warus were looking forward to rebuilding after the Hulk. EQC had paid out on the basis the house was a writeoff. With their insurance they could have built a new home on their section.

After listening to Prime Minister John Key yesterday, Waru says the choice has been removed.

"John Key wants the East to go. They want to make it a park, like a forest." Key revealed on Monday as many as 10,000 homes may have to be demolished and whole suburbs abandoned.

The Government may put up more than the initial compensation provided by the Earthquake Commission and private insurers, Key said.

"We would aim to try and put together a package that would allow people to move from one location to another."

Keith Lush said he was determined to stay in his home in an almost deserted Seabreeze Close in Bexley until someone gave him a cheque for the property's pre-September market value.

Well set up for camping, he is not worried by lack of power (reconnected on Monday night) or water.

He knows his land is ripe for abandonment.

"I would prefer to stay and have the street rebuilt. I love being near the sea and being able to walk to the wetlands up the street. But if they pay the market value I would go and buy in Brighton or South Brighton if something is available. That's the question. Where do you go?"

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