From the mouth of one who’s been there: “most people CHOOSE to live in a car”

Rim Ihaka’s unwarranted and unregistered Nissan Maxima was his only home for six months.

Set up in an Auckland park, there was a radio, DVDs and a portable DVD player in the front seat. The back seat housed pots and pans, a little cooker, a loaf of bread and his blankets. His clothes filled the boot, while towels over the windows kept the light out at night.

The 40-year-old – who moved to Auckland three years ago seeking work – had been forced to live in his car in the park since November, after struggling to stay employed.

He told RNZ News he tried to get help from Work and Income, but had to go through a stand down period.

“I just ended up stuck in a rut. I couldn’t do anything because I had no money so I had to start looking at ways to make money and it just got hard.”

With nowhere to go he parked up at Bruce Pulman Park, where he had seen people in cars.

There he found a community, with up to nine car loads parked together for safety each night, and four or five people banding together for meals.

“Meeting these people who became my family there. It started taking the pressure [off], I stopped feeling so depressed but started feeling happy. I’d lost my job but I’d found another family. I’d do anything for them. I had no money and they looked after me.”

A lot of people aren’t forced out, a lot of people choose to leave because it’s better for them because it’s too expensive to live in a house. I suppose some people have been forced out and got nowhere to go so they move to parks.”

There is no reason people in New Zealand need to be homeless, living under bridges, in parks or in vehicles.  Although the latter, it needs to be said, is something tourists pay top dollar for.

Key is right.  Want to get yourself off the street?  Go get help.  It’s there for anyone genuinely looking to turn things around.

Mr Ihaka said the people at the park were not looking for handouts, they just wanted a helping hand.

“I’d like to see more understanding put into why a lot of people are doing what they’re doing, sleeping in their cars. The government needs to be able to really talk about it because all they’re hearing is surveys surveys surveys. Surveys aren’t nothing, they need to get down there with the people.

“I actually feel ashamed of what our country is like. We shouldn’t be like this. We’re not like America, we don’t have wars, we don’t have nuclear weapons. Our country is green but we still have poverty. The biggest question is why.”

There is no real poverty in New Zealand.  There are people who are mentally incapable, mentally sick, suffer serious substance abuse, prefer it as a life style, and those who are just “unhelpable”.   Nobody in this country needs to sleep on the street, in a car or go hungry.  But they do need to take responsibility and work towards improving their lot instead of just expecting someone to give them ‘free stuff’.



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.