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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  • oldmanNZ

    6 months, has he found a job yet?

    “were not looking for handouts, they just wanted a helping hand.”

    so he not wanting to put his hand out and say, I need help, but want some one to come and just help him out, as if he is owned that help.And ashamed that no one is helping him.

    • kereru

      It would be good to know what he has to offer an employer. What ‘s his employment history; what kind of job is he looking for; is he really willing to take anything that’s offered and stick with it? I notice he’s ‘struggling to stay in a job’. Is he seeking treatment for whatever ails him? Perhaps the kinds of job he’s being offered don’t pay as well as the benefit, so why bother.

      Edit: added sentence

  • sandalwood789

    “…had to go through a stand down period.”

    That raises a red flag. If I understand correctly, stand-downs are usually applied if someone is fired from a job (or maybe if they refuse to take an offered job). Oh, and if someone has lots of money and/or assets (which doesn’t seem to be the case here).

    • honeybadger

      Stand downs apply to all types of benefits, including the old sickness benefit…

    • Crowgirl

      You might struggle to “stay employed” as the above case says if you keep quitting.

  • Andy

    One heartening thing for me reading the article is they could form a community and their well-being did increase with security, food etc.

  • Chris Fleming

    Sounds like he is freedom camping in these parks. It that allowed in Auckland.
    Where is showering and toileting?

  • rexabus

    It’s presented by the media and the looney left as though this is the 1st time in NZ people have slept in cars or caravans etc. As far as I know, right throughout history people have had to pay for accommodation. If a persons finances weren’t so good then it’d just be a space in a doss house or boarding house. I’ve seen plenty of pokey little basement rooms under houses and pretty basic sheds/sleepouts rented out over the years and a long time before all the current hysteria. Just people adjusting to their circumstances. They didn’t seem any the worse for it and if it was too bad I’m sure it’d be good incentive to find a way out of the situation

  • Ruahine

    You can take a horse to water…………..

  • The Fat Man

    The benefit is paid based on your personal circumstances how many children etc.

    Employers pay what you are worth to them. If you are worth less than the minimum wage then you are unemployable. They are not a charity and have bills etc to pay. Not to mention a multitude of compliance costs, Council, Government etc. TAXes like, GST PAYE, ACC, FBT, At the end of the day the person putting up the capital and taking all the risks is some how the cash cow that can be milked endlessly and is expected to like it, pay their “Fair” share. 2nd class citizens beaten into submission by the power of the state.

    Think not look at how much of the economic activity is swallowed up by a multitude of compliance costs and Taxes and then wonder why things cost so much.

    Lift the minimum wage and more people become unemployable.Where are the statistics on the number of people earning the minimum wage.Lets not talk about that.

    If the benefit pays more than an employer is prepared to pay then you have no real choice.

    Like it or not we have become a low wage economy. Government funded “union” Nazi’s like the Labour “Inspectorate” Department do not help. They just encourage employers not to employ staff.

    The so called “World class education” system has failed with children leaving school unable to read or write. But well versed in their rights to do whatever they want.

    • Nige.

      “Lift the minimum wage and more people become unemployable.”

      I have been thinking about minimum wage a lot lately. What you say is so true. I know someone who is really really thick and isn’t worth minimum wage. If there were no minimum wage he could find work for what he is worth. But as it is people just wouldn’t be willing to pay him the “entitled” $15.75 an hour.

  • cows4me

    You could bet your last dollar if the government was to rush out tomorrow and place all these people into permanent accommodation most would be back out on the street the next day. Of course the lunatic left would then be screaming that you are infringing on their human rights to live where they wish. A lot of these people don’t require houses they need hospital beds but once again the liberals saw fit to shut such places.

  • SlightlyStrange

    They don’t seem to sleep in cars in the cities in the USA – they walk, and sleep in doorways (at least, that was our experience of seeing them the other week in big-city USA).