Three weeks ago life was very different for Gail Redding and her extended family. The family of seven, including two disabled children, was living in a tent in Edgecumbe with no power and no running water with just a slim canvas separating them from the elements. They would sit around a plastic table doing their schoolwork in gumboots as the rain slowly crept inside their tent. But their plea for help has been answered. Reporter Zizi Sparks talks to the family about how they are settling into life in a Rotorua house, just over a week after they moved.
For more than seven months Gail Redding and her family of seven has been living in a tent in Edgecumbe.
Just over a week ago that all changed thanks to the kindness of a stranger.
The family was forced to live in the tent when they had to leave the house they had been renting in Ōtakiri for eight years so the landlord could fix it up.
Among the family are two severely disabled children and a third who has a serious medical condition.
Living in the tent was Gail, 65 and her two daughters Sharon, 44, and Margaret, 45.
Sharon has three children: Ricky, 22, Dominic, 12, and Shyanne, 6. Margaret has one daughter, Lettisha, 14.
Shyanne suffers from a rare condition called Cri-du-chat (cat's cry) syndrome and needs specialised one-on-one care. Dominic suffers several disorders including attention deficit disorder and autism and Lettisha has a heart condition.
Given their circumstances with the children, who they also home school, the family didn't want to split up, so finding a house big enough was difficult.
They also own animals they wanted to keep, including two dogs, three cats, chickens, calves and horses as mentally the children coped better being around the animals.
Family of 7 living in tent with disabled kids pleads for help
'No family should ever have to live in circumstances like this'
Since the Rotorua Daily Post first reported their plight a month ago, offers for financial help flooded in but the Reddings needed a home, not money.
Finally, a Rotorua woman offered to rent part of her six-bedroom home to the Reddings who moved in on June 28.
The woman wants to remain anonymous but previously told the Rotorua Daily Post her six-bedroom home had been empty for several months because she and her adult son, who is also a high-needs person due to a brain injury, had been living with family in Matatā.
She had been meaning to rent out her home.
Gail Redding said when the family first drove down the driveway to the house the children got really excited.
"Shyanne was most happy she got so excited when she came up that was a good sign.
"it's a nice big house they've got plenty of room. The kids loved it. It was cool to be able to let them go and not be constricted to one place."
Redding said it was also great to finally have electricity.
"On the first night, Lettisha wanted to just cook and cook and cook."
A plastic table in the tent for schoolwork has been replaced with a large dining table inside or picnic table outside.
"In the tent we struggled if we had wet days it was really hard to do homework but here it's good ... We've got a big table everybody can sit around and do the work."
For now, the working members of the family are commuting to the Eastern Bay daily but they're putting CVs out for local jobs.
The lounge of the new home is covered in beds, but only temporarily as the homeowner is putting new carpet down in the bedrooms. A new fireplace is also coming.
"At least it's a roof over our heads during winter. We were all coming down with colds in the tent."