By Darrel Mager
AUCKLAND - State housing activists were last night threatening to occupy the home of a Housing New Zealand tenant to stop him being evicted for refusing to pay more than $30,000 in unpaid rent.
Manurewa resident Richard Waimotu is among a handful of Aucklanders on a partial rent strike since 1993 in protest at Housing New Zealand's market rents.
He has been paying just 25 per cent of the market rent for his Mahia Rd property, which he believes is a fair rental for a "low-income earner paying child support and supporting a sick elderly brother."
Late last year Mr Waimotu, a bus driver who makes $230 a week, was ordered to pay just under half the back-rent bill after Housing New Zealand took him to the Tenancy Tribunal.
He has so far refused and yesterday afternoon was due to be evicted from his home of six years. But Housing New Zealand staff dropped off a letter at the last minute telling him that he could stay provided he paid the full $230 rent each week.
He would also have to pay off $12,000 outstanding at $10 a week.
A Housing New Zealand spokesman, Tim Lawrey, said last night that Mr Waimotu also had the option of moving into a smaller and cheaper house, provided he agreed to pay the full market rent.
The offer is valid until 3 pm today.
But Mr Waimotu said last night that he would refuse the offer, and 50 other protesters said they would be back today to occupy the house.
Peter Hughes of the State Housing Action Coalition said: "We'll take whatever mass peaceful protest action we can to stop his eviction and get the message across to the Government that market rents for state house tenants are wrong."
There were still a dozen rent strikers left from the 60 who started five and a half years ago.
By Darrel Mager