For two years Rachel Tana couch-surfed at her whānau's houses and at times slept in a tent. Now she has a place of her own as Jenny Ling reports.
Last week Rachel Tana barely got a wink of sleep.
But this time it wasn't because she was tossing and turning on a lumpy couch or sleeping rough in a tent.
It wasn't due to the guilt she felt at keeping a colossal secret from her kids - that she'd lost her main source of income, couldn't keep up her rent payments, and was now homeless.
This time, Tana's sleeplessness was caused by excitement.
The Far North grandmother, who spent two years with nowhere to call home, was getting a portable cabin delivered to her whenua in Ngapipito thanks to the Whakamanamai Whānau Trust.
And as Tana held the set of keys to her new home, surrounded by her tamariki and mokopuna, she announced:
This was the 19th portacom that the trust has delivered to a growing number of vulnerable Northlanders who are struggling to get into housing.
The trust's Whare to the Whenua scheme allows these people – who have been living in cars, tents, shacks and garages due to a range of complex reasons - to have somewhere secure to live on their whenua.
It also gives them the opportunity of home ownership; if regular $200 payments are made each week, the $25,000 cabin will be theirs in just over two years.
Trust director Rhonda Zielinski said the scheme removes barriers for people who can't get financing from banks and who struggle with bureaucracy.
"Some people when they come in, they look like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders," Zielinski said.
"That's how Rachel was when she came in our door.
"When we say we can help them their whole āhua [demeanour] changes."
Tana's whānau gathered to celebrate the delivery of her new home last Thursday, along with Zielinski, Jane Beamsley, and Te Miringa Mihaka who are also involved in the Whare to the Whenua project.
Victor Smith from Space King, the Silverdale company which manufactures the Portacoms, carefully manoeuvred the building up the long driveway and into position.
It sits next to the house her son Adam Stepanicic is building. There is an outdoor covered kitchen nearby where Tana will cook her meals, and further away, an outdoor toilet.
The power will come from a generator, along with some solar panels.
After the little house is levelled off and she settles in, she plans to plant vegetable and flower gardens and practice her traditional rongoā herbal medicine.
Tana lost her main source of income as a caregiver living in Auckland two years ago around the same time her landlord increased the rent from $200 to $300 a week.
Tana – who kept her dire housing situation from her kids as she didn't want to be a burden – can now finally relax.
She is overwhelmed with joy. "I've been too excited; we all have been," she said.
"There's no words to express how I feel. You're home on your own whenua, with a whare to live in instead of tents."
For Stepanicic, there is also relief. "It means she's safe," he said.
"I'm so grateful to have my mother next to me. It was sad to know a mother who has raised you really well had fallen into something like that.
"It was heart-breaking when she first told us.
"As children you wouldn't expect your parents to be in that situation. I wish we'd known a long time ago."
For Zielinski it's another successful delivery - another whare to the whenua.
"I just love to see the joy, to see the smiles on the whānau's faces. It makes it all worthwhile."