Community rallies around house of horror buyers

Skip King, partner Anna Smythe and baby Taika King, of Dunedin, have been overwhelmed with community support. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery
Skip King, partner Anna Smythe and baby Taika King, of Dunedin, have been overwhelmed with community support. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery

A community has rallied around a Dunedin family who bought a filthy "horror'' house, by offering financial support and helping them clean it up.

The house, at Long Beach, belongs to Skip King and Anna Smythe.

The family members were extremely grateful for what the community had done for them since the extent of the damage and filth at the house was revealed on January 29.

"Heaps of people have been coming over and helping us out and helping us get into the house as soon as we can,'' Mr King said. "Some were people I knew and some were just people from the community.

"It's going to look awesome. It's going to be awesome. I think the Mrs is going to love it. I am too.''

Mr King told the Otago Daily Times in January he believed up to 30 cats and four dogs were locked inside the house for long periods, allegedly by previous tenants.

The floors throughout the house were covered in excrement. Signs of animal cruelty and neglect were evident.

The first weekend they owned the house, people helped out the couple by donning hazard suits and gutting the interior, removing rubbish and dealing with overgrown grass and shrubbery.

The renovations would include reorganising the interior to make the living space bigger and relining the walls and ceilings.

Mr King hoped to have the renovations completed by early April when son Taika turned 1.

"We had no choice but to rip everything out. Everything was contaminated ... It's been really good just getting in here and getting into it.''

The smell would be gone once the floors had been dried and sealed, he said. The house had been fumigated.

A few of his tradesmen mates were coming and helping for free, Mr King said. It had been good to get it done "as it's been a bit of a hard year''.

Taika was in hospital with heart problems last year and Mr King had also had a stint in hospital before they bought the home, without fully knowing the extent of the damage and filth.

Ms Smythe said Mitre 10 Mega had offered a "really good rate'' for renovation materials and Tak Flooring had also pledged its support.

The community had been "so amazing'', she said.

"We just got really excited seeing the difference and we could just see that it's got potential.''

A friend of Mr King's for more than 20 years, Ryan Henry, of Port Chalmers, helped with the cleanup and said the family deserved the support. The community was right behind the couple because Mr King was the sort of person who spent years helping others.

"Small community people dig in and help each other,'' he said.

P Huntley Builder Ltd owner, and friend of the family, Phil Huntley was helping with planning and renovations.

"When you look at what these guys have been through ... Skip's the most unselfish person I know. They deserve a break.''

SPCA Otago chief executive Sophie McSkimming said the investigation into the alleged mistreatment of animals by the previous tenants was ongoing.

- Otago Daily Times

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