One of the houses in Warkworth, New Zealand, during the blessing ceremony

Terri and husband Tane immigrated to New Zealand from Kiribati islands in 2008 with their 2-year-old son. They initially lived with friends. After two years they moved to the rural area of Warkworth north of Auckland city. Tane had found work in horticulture. He has held this job for 10 years but still remains on the minimum wage.

They were in a very old farm cottage that lacked insulation. Their oldest son developed rheumatic fever when he was 8 years old. This was attributed to the poor housing and overcrowding. Sadly, this means he now requires monthly injections to protect his heart. The family tried unsuccessfully to find a better rental, but the high prices proved a barrier.

The family was referred to De Paul House, a Vincentian organisation founded by the Daughters of Charity in 1986 to provide adequate housing to any family with New Zealand residency or citizenship. They also run a Learning Centre and Early Childhood services.

Terri and Tane were interviewed and accepted for a new house. They are going to live in one of the houses of the first 13 Houses Project in New Zealand. The project is made up of ten homes in Warkworth, that were recently offered to De Paul House.

When they were invited to inspect the house, they were overwhelmed at the quality and comfort of the home. The children were excited to have their own bedrooms and the house was fully furnished and equipped ready to move in. The beds were made up and there were toys in the bedroom and a food box in the kitchen.

“When the offer to manage the ten houses came, we were impressed with the quality of the brand-new houses. Two are older cottages but eight are 4 – 6 bedroom new homes.” says Jan Rutledge, General Manager. The family was so appreciative. “We cannot thank you enough. The children’s health has improved since moving into this lovely home.”

“We are now housing ten families, meaning we have taken 17 adults and 35 children out of substandard, overcrowded housing and rehoused them. “De Paul House will continue to advocate for the families to be accepted into Government social housing which offers affordability and security of tenure”.

You can learn more about De Paul House and their almost four-decades long work with homeless people in New Zealand on their website.

(names changed to respect the family’s privacy)