Squatting family evicted after mum's death

By Lindy Laird of the Northern Advocate -
Members of the Dunn whanau, including occupants James, second from right and Raymond Dunn, right, in the Otangarei home. Photo / Northern Advocate
Members of the Dunn whanau, including occupants James, second from right and Raymond Dunn, right, in the Otangarei home. Photo / Northern Advocate

About 40 police, including armed officers on standby, were used to evict a family from a Whangarei Housing New Zealand home at the centre of a prolonged stand-off with a family.

Emergency tape kept onlookers well away from the scene as Whangarei police assisted with the eviction of Dunn family members - former occupants who have become squatters in the Otangarei state house they grew up in.

During yesterday's operation, Raymond Dunn was arrested on a charge the Advocate understands was not related to his and brother James' refusal to leave the William Jones Dr house after HNZ had issued several eviction notices.

About 10 police cars and 20 officers arrived at the house shortly before 10am and ordered the occupants out.

Relieving Whangarei/Kaipara area commander Inspector Tracy Phillips said about 40 police staff, including the armed offenders squad, were involved in the occupants' removal. About a dozen police vehicles were used to secure exit and entry points around the property.

"The reason for the number of staff used in the operation was the address had links to gangs, drugs and firearms and we wanted to ensure the safety of our staff and the court bailiff in executing the court order," Ms Phillips said. "We plan for the worst and hope for the best, which is what happened in this case. There were three adults and three children at the address and we engaged the services of Victim Support to work with the children.

"The children were safe and well and we gave them blankets and food and then took them to the address of some relatives. A 33-year-old man, who lived at the address, was arrested for failing to appear in court."

Rina Dunn, who died in March, had been the tenancy agreement-holder. Citing Tenancy Act conditions, HNZ has refused to transfer the house to the brothers, resulting in the dispute that has lasted nearly five months.

Standing behind the barrier tape, watching as police carried cameras and other equipment into the house 100m away, James Dunn said it was a sad day.

Tearful family members comforted each other in the street. Curious neighbours and onlookers watched on, some shaking their heads; other offering supportive comments to the Dunn family. There was little evidence of the defiance of previous gatherings that took place outside the house pending the family's eviction.

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