HNZ apologises to couple forced to wash at kitchen sink

By Ripeka Timutimu

Housing New Zealand has apologised to a West Auckland man who was forced to use his kitchen as a bathing area for his partially disabled wife.

Native Affairs spoke to Peter Howard who cares for his partner Andrea Marshall.

“We wash from the kitchen sink, and we do a two day a week trip to the pools for the showers,” he says. 

Howard has been living in the two-storey Housing New Zealand home since the end of 2012. 

His partner Andrea underwent brain surgery to remove a tumour and the after-effects left her in a wheelchair and dependent on Howard to care for her.

Marshall stayed at the home on and off during her recovery, however, she is now living there full-time.

“When I had the kids with us we would get her upstairs and in the shower, but they come and go, it's only me here and easier for us to do everything downstairs.”

He says it has become too difficult to carry Marshall up the stairs to the only bathroom in the home.

Rebecca Mahoney, area manager for Housing New Zealand says,

“Mr Howard had not previously declared either of the other two people living at the home, Ms Marshall and her adult daughter.  Mr Howard had sole tenant status and although we were aware of Ms Marshall’s existence she was never there when we visited and Mr Howard would not provide her details”

Housing New Zealand has apologised to Howard and began the process to find them more suitable accommodation.

Mahoney says, “Our Tenancy Liaison people are going to give refresher training to my tenancy management team to make sure we always ask the right questions and get the right information, even when this is hard to obtain.”