From moving houses to owning a home in Gisborne

May 27, 2021
Gisborne homeowner Michelle Leaf began her Progressive Home Ownership journey with Habitat as a single parent of seven children – and is now proud to say her home is “full” with her six beautiful mokopuna. 

“We are just so excited and happy and just so grateful for Habitat for everything that they have done for us… we’d never have been able to own a home,” Michelle Leaf said. 

“It is truly that feeling of… this is our home and what we have done… it’s amazing,”. 

Michelle began her home ownership journey with Habitat in 2009 after leaving a housing New Zealand house. After a relationship separation, Michelle took on the home by herself, and completed her home ownership journey with Habitat, pleased to provide a decent and safe environment for her future generations. She’s already planning to renovate.  

“I’ve got a whiteboard and I’ve written our home and personal goals. I’m really excited”. 

Owning a house has provided Michelle the strength and stability to attain goals in her personal as well as professional life. When she first began with Progressive Home Ownership, she was a a stay-at-home mum. She progressed to her first job at the Warehouse during her homeownership journey and has been working at Mitre 10 for the past three years.  

Talking about the house, Michelle is excited to get her hands on with some renovations, starting with the kitchen and bathroom – and using what she’s learnt through working in a trades environment.   

(Michelle Leaf with her children) 

With a vision of world where everyone has a decent place to live, Habitat build houses with the support of family and volunteers. The Leaf’s house build was supported by their family and friends and also by group of American volunteers on Habitat’s Global village trip led by Habitat Central’s current Chief Executive Nic Greene. Recalling those memories, Michelle said that it gave her an “amazing” feeling of ownership.  

Greene fondly recalls the experience of building Michelle’s home, and has congratulated her on reaching her goals.  

“I remember the fun we had building (her) house but also the hard work that she has done since then to achieve the goal of ownership,” Greene said.  

Progressive Home Ownership is a rent-to-buy system, with a strong emphasis on partnership between Habitat and the future homeowners. This is for low to mid-income whanau who otherwise wouldn’t be able to achieve home ownership without some support. To learn more about Home Ownership Programme, visit