John Coleman (Ngati Porou, Whakatohea), Sandra Coleman (Ngati Maniapoto)

Critical home repairs for one Tokomaru Bay kaumatua gave him much needed independence with self care, and helped to improve the overall warmth, ventilation, safety and accessibility in the whanau home.

John Coleman and Sandra first met with Habitat for Humanity alongside Ngati Porou Hauora in October last year an initiative funded by Te Puni Kokiri. At the time, John had decreasing mobility.

Sandra said that shub-style shower was difficult to get in and out of. Adding to this, the shub had been leaking, so the bathroom floor was also showing signs of rotting, and the vanity had deteriorated from being wet.

Habitat arranged for the shub to be replaced with an easy-access shower unit, a new vanity, flooring repaired and replaced, and ventilation was installed. Importantly, the large freestanding bath was kept in place for visiting mokos (Sandra jokes she still keeps them out of the shower, as she wants to keep it pristine). She said the new shower was much easier for John to access, and she was now also enjoying having the detachable shower head, saying “it just made it easier with our age, too, and being able to just take a load off – everything is just wonderful.”

It was also clear that the Coleman’s would benefit from a heat pump.

“John would go out and try and cut wood, and that would take him about an hour because he had a chair there, and he’d sit there and cut a little bit, and that would be it. So, he didn’t have to do any of that, it was just brilliant.”

The home repair programme has also included community workshops on basic maintenance, electrical, and plumbing. After attending the electrical course, Sandra applied what she learned about how to read an electricity bill, and how to efficiently operate a heat pump.

“I came home and looked at my power bill – because he explained about how you can save on power, and all about how the account is made up. So I know (the heat pump) is not really going to put my power up because they explained how you can use it. It’s going to be quite economical.”

The heat pump was installed in November 2018, the couple were also able to enjoy a cooler home through the summer months.

Further work at the Coleman’s home included installing a hand rail on the deck – “it’s really good because that’s where the stairs are… and it gets really slippery when it’s wet. So now we can just hold on to that to go down” – and ventilation in the kitchen.

Sandra recently enjoyed an unexpected spinoff from having a new rangehood: using the light to see while she’s making a cup of tea after dark.

Sandra said tradesmen who undertook the repairs were friendly and helpful and “we were just so grateful.”

“It makes your home much healthier… even for us to live in now – it’s not cold. This home is left to our two daughters and so everything that’s done, it’s best for them. It’ll just carry on.”

Work completed:

  • Heat pump
  • Rangehood
  • Bathroom extractor fan
  • Handrail to deck
  • Corner soakers
  • Install shower
  • Replace vanity
  • Install new flooring
  • Grab rails

Sadly, John passed away earlier this year. Moe mai ra e pa.