Koro struggles to make ends meet

By Taroi Black

Tūākau elderly could face financial hardship due to the Waikato District Council's decision to increase pensioners rent by $26 per week.

Pensioner Peter George Semmens, 75, described his current situation to Te Ao.

“This week at the moment I've got $40 to get me through until next week pension day.”

The rent increase for Housing the Elderly properties in Tūākau, Huntly and Ngāruawāhia started on Monday 1 July 2019, this includes Koro Peter's one bedroom house.

“If it’s going up every year than it's going to have a big impact on how long we could last,” he says.

Waikato District Council sent correspondence to the affected pensioners informing them the rent increase is due to maintenance costs.  

Local mayor Allan Sanson says, “We actually signed off its Fees and Charges 10 days ago for the next financial year so that included these rent increases as well which were tied up in that. So basically we would assess them on an annual basis going forward in the future.”

Community services like Huakina Development Trust have attended a local meeting today to offer assistance to Tūākau pensioners with free health care as financial hardship looms.

Huakina co-ordinator Robert Hita says, “We’re here to present to our whānau around what we can do as Huakina to awhi and support in terms of their well-being.”

Semmens has confirmed with Te Ao that he has also sought assistance from Work and Income NZ to help cover his living costs.