This summer the Chronicle is bringing you another look at some of the best content of 2019. This story originally ran on September 17, 2019

Whanganui man Michael Boag would like to expand a long-term accommodation business by renting out more refurbished caravans at a weekly rate to people who are homeless.

Boag's partner Frances Robinson bought the Oasis Motel in Great North Rd four years ago. Its 14 units have been converted to long-term accommodation and are full, with a waiting list. They receive up to six enquiries a week for them.

As well as accommodation in the units, Boag has refurbished five caravans, which he tows to other properties to be used as extra bedrooms, and gets a rental from them.


Whanganui's homeless situation is a weekly reality to him.

"I think it's really, really very sad. I can't make any judgements on individual people as to why they are homeless."

Boag and Robinson moved to Whanganui from the Hutt Valley. They wanted a lifestyle from the motel property - a lifestyle without 6.30am starts to cook breakfast for guests.

The place was rundown and they spent money and time to make improvements. To be rented out long term, each unit had to meet the standard for new houses; for example, tempering valves for hot water and fire proofing.

They don't take people referred by Police, the Salvation Army or churches. Instead they interview applicants themselves, asking them simple questions.

"We will pick our people," Boag said.

"We live here. We want people who are open and honest."

The units are all full, with four people on a waiting list.


Most of the tenants have jobs. Robinson and Boag charge $200 to $245 a week per unit, and power is included in the rental.

They have hosted people on home detention, and a gang member who was thrown through a window by one of his guests one night. He offered to leave the next day but Boag and Robinson liked the man and his girlfriend and didn't require him to leave.

"The guy has been incredibly loyal to us," Boag said.

Oasis isn't the only Whanganui business offering this type of accommodation. Acacia Park Motel, Hikurangi StayPlace and Bignell St Motels & Caravan Park do the same thing, and Boag knows of another 12 units that will soon be available.

One motor camp he visited in Napier was "raking it in" by charging $1400 a week for a family of six to live in a cabin.

What was once a motel is now a long-term accommodation complex. Photo / Laurel Stowell
What was once a motel is now a long-term accommodation complex. Photo / Laurel Stowell

He'd like to extend the accommodation business. He has five caravans that he hires out for $90 a week. He has stripped out their kitchen and bathroom facilities to make them purely bedrooms.

Boag tows the caravans to properties where the caravan tenants use the kitchen and bathroom in the house.

He's seeking funding of $20,000 to buy and fit-out five more caravans. He knows there's a demand for accommodation, and said there would be a full-time job for someone overseeing 10-15 of them.