Degen Prodger and his family have moved back into their Bella Vista home at The Lakes but what should be a great relief for them is instead bittersweet.

Many of their neighbours' homes are still empty and their future, like everyone else's, remains uncertain.

Prodger, his wife and their 8-year-old daughter were among the residents and homeowners evacuated last month.

Read more: Three of 21 Bella Vista homes no longer considered dangerous, can be reoccupied
Tauranga City Council to detail Bella Vista investigation plan next week


Only three of the 21 Bella Vista homes previously ruled as unlivable can now be reoccupied.

The city council's structural experts and legal advisor said late on Friday afternoon that three of the properties at Aneta Way were no longer considered "dangerous and/or affected" and could be reoccupied.

"These three buildings on Aneta Way were referred to during the owner meeting last week as being affected due to the potential for wind to lift roofs off other homes nearby, or they had not been invasively tested," general manager of the council's chief executive group, Kirsty Downey, said yesterday.

She said, after more invasive testing, the council had withdrawn the "dangerous and/or affected" notices from numbers 2, 3, and 4 Aneta Way.

One of those homes belongs to Prodger and his wife.

Their house is above the retaining wall and the family had been living there for about a year.

"We were only kept out of our house because we were affected by dangerous houses around us," Prodger said.

He said they were told by the council on Friday that they could go back to their home.


"There are still some things that need to happen to it, but it's not dangerous. So we chose to go back, just because we were really struggling being away from home."

Prodger has been sick for two weeks and said his daughter has been upset not knowing where the family was going to end up next.

"We just need to have some familiarity and just actually have a chance to get back to normal."

He said his family had been under emotional stress for so long.

"Six weeks is a long time to not know what's going on and always wondering what's going to happen next."

However, Prodger said there was still a chance his family could be asked to leave their home again.

Moving back in was not a decision made lightly, he said.

"We wanted to make sure that our act of moving into our house was not going to leave us out of any decisions that were being made on the 6th of June."

Prodger said they were given that assurance but it was still a "bittersweet situation".

He said he and his wife needed to do what was right for their family, but it was hard because their neighbours were still not able to move back in and remained in limbo.

Owners of the 21 Bella Vista-built houses sealed by the council six weeks ago received the devastating news last week that their homes could not be reoccupied.

Residents now have to put forward hardship cases for the council to continue to pay their accommodation, which expired last Friday.

Evacuated resident Tony Mann had an individual owner meeting with the council on Monday night.

"It was good really, we agreed on a lot of points made by both parties, I feel positive and hopeful that council is working towards making the right decision," Mann said yesterday.

Evacuated resident Tony Mann. Photo / File
Evacuated resident Tony Mann. Photo / File

Jenny and Damian Coffey have also had their individual owner meeting and said it was "productive".

"But it did not really tell us anything we did not know already. They offered to go over the report, we clarified a few items with them but the report is sobering reading," Jenny said.

"They told us how to apply for special circumstances. We told them about our circumstances and about our four dogs."

She said council chief executive Garry Poole was very interested in the dogs "as he is an animal lover himself".

Jenny and Damian Coffey. Photo / File
Jenny and Damian Coffey. Photo / File

Meanwhile, former High Court judge Paul Heath QC will undertake a thorough investigation into the city council's role in the Bella Vista Homes development at Lakes Boulevard and Aneta Way.

Poole said Heath would deliver a report by June 1 which would allow elected members to consider its findings ahead of making a decision on the council's preferred option for homeowners on June 6.