A Helensville man is wondering how, after a life spent working, saving and paying his mortgage, he can be in danger of losing his property just months after losing his job.
Bruce Burgess, 60 years old and a qualified engineer, has been busy his entire adult life.
Aside from a couple of years overseas in the early 1970s, he has worked, paid his taxes and saved his money.
His wife Jo has held down regular work as an office administrator and accounts person.
Neither of them smoke, they don't take extravagant holidays, and drink only occasionally.
Mr Burgess told the Herald today the couple own two properties in Auckland - a house in Papakura and an apartment in central Auckland purchased "in 2004 or 2005" - but they were not currently returning any money.
He said he paid about $385,000 for the Papakura property, though it was now worth about $340,000.
The property had gone on the market, but was later withdrawn as "we could not even get a bad offer on it".
The apartment was purchased for "$260-something", but he did not know the current market value.
Mr and Mrs Burgess do regular community and church work and have never been on any type of welfare benefit, save for Mr Burgess's short stint on ACC about seven years ago.
In 1989, the couple bought a 2.5ha lifestyle block on Old North Rd. They moved on to the property in 1992.
Since then, the pair have tended the sheep, chooks and fruit trees, all the while working at steady jobs to cover the mortgage. They have also worked to protect a stand of native bush, and have put a house on the property.
But about four months ago, Mr Burgess - whose case was brought to the Herald's attention by the Labour Party - lost his Avondale-based engineers job - and with it a $750-a-week paycheck.
Work is not easy to come by and despite following up on a number of job leads, Mr Burgess has secured just two interviews - one as a bus driver, the other as a school caretaker.
He missed out on the caretaker's position, but is still waiting to hear about the driving job.
To make matters worse, Mrs Burgess' income - which totals about $21,000 a year - makes the couple ineligible for any type of unemployment benefit.
"I was told that because the wife was working, I couldn't get any [benefit]," Mr Burgess said yesterday. He now fears he will "soon" lose the lifestyle block the couple have worked 20 years to build - possibly within the next couple of months.
Mr Burgess' property is in the middle of Prime Minister John Key's Helensville electorate,
"There's no one to blame... [but] I think it should be realised that if you work for years and years and years you would get some help."
A concerned relative emailed Mr Key's office earlier this month to raise that point with him. The letter was passed to Minister for Social Development and Employment Paula Bennett's office, which has promised to check Mr Burgess' full eligibility.
In the meantime, Mr Burgess will continue his job hunt.
"I am more than willing to take a job if it comes, it's just finding one."