For Carol, of Ngāti Wairere, her home in Gordonton is part of her identity.
“It’s part of who I am. There’s a lot of heart in this whenua and both my parents and my grandparents put a lot of energy into this place. It’s my turn to pay that back,” Carol said.
The house, part of the whānau’s original papakāinga, was her grandparents’ home and where her mother was brought up. The house has been in her family for a long time and is currently home to Carol and her mother.
“It is home, absolutely, in every sense of the word.”
With the house getting older, Carol knew she needed to carry out repairs and maintenance and worked with a builder to draw up plans. Unfortunately, Carol was unable to secure funding from the bank to complete the work, but the process gave her a great understanding of the house and the key points that needed to be addressed – all of which came in handy when applying for Habitat’s Home Repair Programme.
Habitat offers affordable, interest-free loans of up to $20,000 to homeowners for critical repairs undertaken through Habitat’s Home Repair Programme. For Carol, this enabled her to address some of the major work she’d identified, creating a warm, dry, and safe place for her and her mother to live.
The work included transforming the bathroom into a wet room, re-wiring throughout the house, installing underfloor and ceiling insulation, and adding lighting and ventilation to the kitchen.
“It was actually quite a big job in the end – a significant piece of work,” Carol said. “The bathroom’s made a huge difference. My mother’s elderly and she’s limited in her mobility, so by taking the bath out and just having this open space – she loves it. It’s only a tiny space but it’s made a huge difference to how we function. It’s incredible the difference it’s made.”
Habitat works in partnership with Waikato-Tainui, who support the Home Repair Programme through part-funding projects for tribal members, in addition to Habitat’s no-interest loan. The reduced financial pressure from the affordable repayments and zero interest has been significant for Carol.
“It was really worthwhile, I’m glad I did it. The outcome of all the work that was done has just made a huge difference to the home.
“There’s an inherent obligation that I have to this piece of land that is part and parcel of my whole identity as Ngāti Wairere. It’s not something that you can just pick up and leave. It’s kind of like that whakataukī – Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au: I am the river and the river is me. It’s the same with the whenua, they’re intrinsic.”