A four-bedroom house is yours, free.
The catch? It sits on Category Three land in the Hawke’s Bay suburb of Pakowhai and was inundated with floodwater during Cyclone Gabrielle, leaving a thick layer of silt inside that remains to this day, cracked and slowly grassing over.
Alex Merrie says once the insurance paid out on their Pakowhai Rd house, he and his wife decided to put out a sign on the roadside and offer their home to anyone who wants to take it, provided they can afford to remove it.
Merrie is optimistic someone will take up the challenge of removing the house from the property and fixing it up for another family to live in elsewhere.
“I think somebody possibly will take it,” Merrie said.
“Approximately 10 people have rung the number and had a look at it. It is a bit too big for some sections and for other people, the project is probably a bit too much for them.”
He said it would definitely be a challenge to remove the house, which had floodwaters up to the ceiling on February 14, but he emphasised the virtues of the building.
“It is a really good-quality old house because it was built in the heydays when apples were flourishing,” he said.
“It has still got good bones so to speak. It needs the silt and carpets taken out. You take all the gibboard off the inside and go from there.”
“It probably looks more daunting than what it actually is.”
He does not know how much it would cost to remove the house.
“It would be a good project if you were a builder or something.”
“Half a dozen guys for a day or two days, they would have it stripped, all the carpet and stuff and it would look a lot better.”
The property itself is 14 hectares of land that had an orchard on it before the cyclone.
That will all be removed but Merrie said they hope to restart horticultural activity on the land again as long as flood protection measures were put in place.
“We are pushing [Hawke’s Bay Regional Council] to have three set spillways so they don’t scour out and we have that catastrophic failure,” he said.
“If they were to do that it, becomes viable to put in horticultural infrastructure.”
One day he even hopes he and his family will be able to return to Pakowhai to live safely again. For now, it’s out of his control.
James Pocock joined Hawke’s Bay Today in 2021 and writes breaking news and features, with a focus on environment, local government and post-cyclone issues in the region. He has a keen interest in finding the bigger picture in research and making it more accessible to audiences. He lives in Napier. email@example.com