HNZ eviction letter gives gang complainant details

By Isaac Davison

A senior Housing New Zealand staff member is under police protection after the corporation accidently gave details about her to recently evicted Mongrel Mob members.

When Housing New Zealand tried to evict the gang members from a state house in Lower Hutt, their eviction notice contained the name and address of the HNZ worker, who lived in the area, and the person complaining about the gang members' behaviour.

A HNZ spokesman said the internal document, which was accidently attached to the 90-day eviction notice, also listed the risks staff and the complainant faced if an eviction was to be carried out.

He said giving this information to the tenants would increase those risks.

TV3 reported that the HNZ staff member had to leave her home because of death threats and was under 24-hour police surveillance.

But HNZ said it had received only "low-level grumbling" and had taken steps to protect staff.

This morning a Mongrel Mob spokesperson known as 'Fats' told Radio New Zealand that the tenant who complained and the Housing New Zealand employee would be safe.

Fats said no death threats had been issued and gang members had been told not to make contact with the complainant.

The complainant, who is related to other Mongrel Mob gang members, is a witness in an intimidation case before the courts, which led to the eviction.

Ten members of former Mongrel Mob president Anthony Pairama's family were served notice two weeks ago after HNZ received complaints about antisocial behaviour.

"They have given us the details of the complainant and where she is moving to and stuff like that, that's a bit weird," Mr Pairama told TV3.

HNZ chief executive Lesley McTurk said she was "deeply concerned" about the error.

She had started an inquiry to investigate how the details were given to the Mob.

"The important thing is managing the risks - the additional risks - to staff and the community that have been created by the error," she said.

The eviction of the Mongrel Mob members was part of a trial by HNZ in the Pomare area, where it was monitoring difficult gang members and antisocial state house tenants.

Dr McTurk said the blunder had not undermined the serving of 90-day notices in Pomare.

"The validity of these 90-day notices to terminate these tenancies has not been affected by this error. The 90-day notices stand, and we will be acting on them.

"It has created some additional risks which we are mitigating."

HNZ chief executive Lesley McTurk said today an employment inquiry was under way into how the mistake had been made.

"It was an error and I acknowledge that," she told Radio New Zealand.

Dr McTurk said Housing New Zealand would be helping the evicted tenants to find new accommodation.

"It will not be Housing New Zealand houses," she said.

"We're trying to find them sustainable accommodation where they can fit into the community.

"We still have an interest in that women and children that are in these tenancies have a roof over their heads that is sustainable for them."

Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins said HNZ had "badly let this person (the woman who complained) down, compromising their safety".

He said the rushed and botched eviction raised questions for Housing Minister Phil Heatley.

"Housing New Zealand has seriously botched this situation and the minister needs to front up and accept his share of the responsibility. He put the pressure on Housing New Zealand to rush these evictions so that he could publicly grandstand."

Mr Heatley said he supported the tougher approach being taken on undesirable tenants but that Housing New Zealand needed to improve its processes.

- With NZPA

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