1 Jun 2018

Man still repaying debt from unnecessary HNZ meth eviction

From Checkpoint, 5:09 pm on 1 June 2018

A man who received an apology from the housing minister for being evicted from his state house is still being forced to pay back the government for emergency accommodation. 

Robert Eruiti was evicted from his Housing New Zealand (HNZ) home after testing for methamphetamine on surfaces in eight rooms revealed he was 0.09 over the 0.5 limit using a scientific method that has been since discredited.

Although it was not believed he was responsible for the contamination, because his name was on the tenancy agreement he was evicted.

His daughter Casey McCarry told Checkpoint her father was still being forced to pay back some of the $44,000 it cost to house him for over a year in emergency accommodation.

"We also believe that should be waived, that he should not have to pay that money," she said.

"It still feels like yesterday my dad was evicted because it was such a stressful process for myself and my family.  

"I'm very angry and disappointed."

A lot of his furniture and belongings had to be thrown away as there was nowhere to store them.

Housing minister Phil Twyford spoke to Checkpoint six months ago and apologised to Mr Eruiti.

"First living in a motel, then a grotty boarding house and now living in a tent. It really sums up for me what I've felt for a while now about how wrong this Housing New Zealand policy has been handling the issue of meth contamination."

This week he made a blanket apology to those who had been wrongly evicted due to the methamphetamine testing.

"Because Paula Bennett and her colleagues are too gutless to front up and apologise for their failure, I will apologise on their behalf."

The prime minister's chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman said the methamphetamine testing was "a tragic misuse of information".

"There's not one iota of evidence that levels of this kind are toxic or harmful even with chronic and repeated exposure to these very low levels," he said.

"The concept of measuring meth and cleaning to a certain level was developed entirely to be certain where meth had been synthesised illegally. 

"Somewhere along the line in New Zealand, and only in New Zealand, that level of adequate cleaning somehow transmitted to being a safety level for passive surface contamination for meth."