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Smiles bely a draining time building first Habitat home

Raglan’s first Habitat for Humanity home is finally inhabitated — with everyone involved breathing sighs of relief that unexpected challenges in the build are now water under the bridge and not the house.

The section on the corner of Main Road and Cross Street may have presented some big drainage issues along the way but there was no dampening the enthusiasm as those involved in the project gathered last week for an on-site dedication ceremony.

And no-one could have been happier than the Hutchins-Williams family who, along with Habitat and many helpers in the community, had worked for months on a build which takes them from 12 years of renting accommodation about town to being proud new homeowners.

“It’s our first home for the rest of our lives,” a beaming Viviers Hutchins told the Chronicle last week as friends and whanau arrived, plates of finger food in hand, for the ceremony.
Viviers reckoned his partner Shirleen Williams had been writing lists and rules for the kids to get them into the routine of responsible home ownership. He praised the “long hours” she’d put in to help turn into reality a dream that originated last year when Habitat, Central North Island (CNI), was looking to house a Raglan family — and chose them.

“Being involved” with the project is indeed part of the international organisation’s ethos, as Habitat CNI general manager Nic Greene pointed out before welcoming the family of seven — including five children ranging in age from four to 16 — to their new two-storey, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

Nic said the Hutchins-Williams family had been “fantastic”, spending more hours than required on building, painting and landscaping. A hand up, not a handout, is a central theme of Habitat for Humanity’s work.

Habitat’s overall vision was a Christian-based one to see everyone had a decent place to live, Nic added. “Even if it’s one house at a time it’s doing something for a family.”

“It was a bit of a damp site when we bought it,” Nic conceded, “but we (had) put in our own drainage.”
Discussions followed with Waikato District Council to get the problem fixed and it’s now “under control”.

That’s a huge relief to all, especially Whaingaroa Affordable Housing Trust (WAHT) which has pushed for six years to get help for local families suffering financial strain, and has been able to do so by partnering with Habitat.

“It’s a start,” said trustee Vera van der Voorden after the official ribbon was cut and five excited children were let loose in the house they now call home. A sixth brother also lives a little further down Cross Street with his partner and baby.

“This (Raglan project) shows everybody it can be done,” Vera said. “There’s hope. Let’s build from here.”

She was particularly pleased the house was two-storey to capture the sun and make a smaller footprint.
WAHT showed Habitat there was a need in Raglan, Vera pointed out, and worked with them. “We found the property at an affordable price and they (Habitat) committed to it.”

Edith Symes

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