The woman singled out by Labour leader Andrew Little as the last resident in the abandoned and derelict Jebson Place housing estate in Hamilton East is moving out this week.

Shirley Butler and her cat Rascal will leave her three-bedroom home of 51 years on Thursday and the house her three children grew up in will soon be a pile of rubble like those around it.

Butler, 76, is the longest and last resident in Jebson Place and in the past three years has watched her neighbours slowly move out and their properties boarded up.

They will give way to a Housing New Zealand redevelopment that will see 71 new properties built on the site.


The grandmother of 10 has been surrounded by houses stripped bare and barricaded off with wire construction fences.

There is the constant hum of a digger, slowly demolishing the trashed houses.

But on Monday Butler signed a contract for her new two-bedroom home about 2.4km away in Newall St, and will spend her first night in it on Thursday.

"They [her children] say I will probably have tears in my eyes when I leave here."

The move is bittersweet for Butler who gave birth to her middle child in the house and also watched her husband die there about 20 years ago.

She clearly remembers the first day she set foot in the door as she had just given birth to her first child. Instead of taking her back to the small flat they lived in on Ulster St, her husband Don surprised her with the new place on Jebson Place.

The Butlers were the third tenants to live in the property - and will also be the last.

"All the other places have had people coming in and out and there have been some cheeky little monkeys."

Butler's new house is single level, has a easy access bathroom and will be warmer with newer insulated curtains.

"The kids said take it. It's really well kept and everything," Butler said.

Jebson Place has been relatively good to her. She only recalled one burglary while she was at her daughter's wedding in Hamilton Gardens a few years ago.

She said troublesome neighbours did not bother her. She had called the police more than once on some.

Butler's youngest daughter Colleen Kelly, 46, said 1 Jebson Place was the only home she had known her mum to live in and she remembered playing with the kids in the neighbourhood on the larger grassy island in the middle of the street before it was redeveloped.

However she was excited about where her mum was moving to and said she would be very happy there.

"We have been trying to get her out of here years and years ago but she dug her toes in."

Shirley Butler takes a last look around the neighbourhood where her children grew up and where her husband Don died 20 years ago. Photo / Alan Gibson
Shirley Butler takes a last look around the neighbourhood where her children grew up and where her husband Don died 20 years ago. Photo / Alan Gibson

In his speech to the Labour Party congress at the weekend, Little spoke about meeting Shirley and how she had showed him a "bunch of broken down buildings" and said she did not know why those houses had been left rotting in the middle of a housing crisis.

Little said Labour would work quickly and replace the abandoned buildings with state houses and 100 KiwiBuild houses ranging from between $200,000 and $350,000.

However the plans are not too different from National's.

A Housing New Zealand spokesperson confirmed it had a resource consent to redevelop the 21,000sq m site encompassing Old Farm Rd, Cassidy St and Dey St and build 71 new homes.

"The redevelopment, if it goes ahead, would result in a mix of Housing New Zealand homes and homes for private ownership that are warm, dry, modern and designed to meet the needs of today's families."

The development is still in the planning phases and remains in discussions with Waikato Tainui, which has a right of first refusal over the site, so the plans could change.