An elderly Horowhenua couple who have moved out of their home of 35 years due to the stress of plans for a new expressway, say the nightmare is still not over.
Jane and Norman Wood, in their 70s, have been living under a cloud of uncertainty, the stress of which has had a particularly severe impact on Norman, who suffered a traumatic brain injury four years ago.
Their home had been identified as possibly in the path of the Ōtaki to North of Levin expressway project (O2NL) and the pressure of that had such a detrimental effect on her husband's health that Jane made the decision to sell their property to the NZ Transport Agency before the final decision was announced.
She said this then categorised them under the Public Works Act as "willing sellers," which they were not.
Unable to find a property locally that she could afford and that would suit her husband's needs, the pair bought a place in Hawke's Bay, moving out of the area they have called home for over three decades.
She said they have now found the expressway would not have gone through their property after all.
"I had to do something in a hurry to put my husband's mind at rest," she said.
The buyout was approved but being designated "willing sellers" meant the Woods would miss out on considerable compensation amounts, including a potential payment of up to $50,000 because the affected property is their home, as well as relocation costs.
With outbuildings full of equipment formerly used in their now-suspended wholesale art business, the cost to relocate was considerable, she said.
"NZTA delivered us a pamphlet at the beginning [of the project] that said we would be in a 'no better or worse position' financially afterwards," Jane said.
"Well, we will be in a worse position."
She said GST was also being charged on the property sale, which she believed was incorrect, and would mean the money they received dropped further.
NZTA's Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight said NZTA had been working closely with the Woods.
"We understand the difficult circumstances they face, which is why we have provided a number of options to give them extra support that we consider fair and appropriate, and in line with our legal requirements," she said.
"All property purchases by the Crown are bound by the provisions of the Public Works Act 1981 (PWA). Land Information New Zealand has determined that the Woods are willing sellers under the provisions of the PWA. This means that the Woods are not legally entitled to reimbursement of costs, including reimbursement of relocation costs, or to additional compensation."
"However, given their circumstances, the NZ Transport Agency has offered to support the Woods with a significant amount of their relocation costs."
Jane Woods said NZTA had offered to pay an amount that would cover only part of their moving costs, and no compensation for the property having been their primary residence.
Information provided by NZTA said the obligation of the Crown is to compensate the landowner fairly for what they would normally receive in the market place in the event of sale.
"It is not the intention, under the compulsory zero rating rules, that the vendor retain the GST component of the sale price," the statement said.
"The compulsory zero rating rules should not - and does not in the market place - create two different outcomes for the vendor, depending on the GST status of the purchaser."
"Any landowner who disagrees with the Crown's interpretation has the option of seeking a ruling from IRD."