REMINDER: Boulders are left behind on Clem Elliott Drive following the 2005 debris flow event at Matata. D8732-03

BEACHFRONT in Clem Elliott Drive, Marilyn Pearce is another resident preparing to fight for her home.

Unlike her neighbours, the Whalleys, Mrs Pearce’s family home was damaged in the 2005 debris flow. She was home as water surged through the lower floor, but said she has found the council’s attitude since to be more traumatic.

When the debris first swept through, Ms Pearce’s section was one of four that could be taken as a chute-to-sea, to save surrounding properties should another debris flow occur.

Mrs Pearce said she would have left her home then for the benefit of her neighbours as it would have been “fair”.

But when she was told that idea had been abandoned and she could return home, she didn’t think she would be turned out again.

Mrs Pearce and her husband, Rob, took their insurance money, took out a mortgage and rebuilt their home in 2008.

Four years later they were told the council would be buying them out of their homes.

Now, seven years after that devastating decision Mrs Pearce needs to take sleeping pills as she can’t stop her mind racing.

She regularly wakes in the early hours of the morning and, due to the stress, cannot fall back asleep and instead frantically cleans her home.

“They (the council) don’t know what they’re doing to people,” she said.

“It’s wrong and based on lies, I will never trust the council. Like everyone we have been here from day dot and we don’t want to leave, this is our home.”

The Pearce’s land originally belonged to her grandfather. The section was subdivided in 2001 and her brother has the plot next door, her sister has the section behind, and her cousins are neighbours.

Like the Whalleys, Mrs Pearce said she was offered a low price for her property in 2012 and since then had watched her home’s rateable value shrink – something she believes is a deliberate ruse by the council.

She was offered $600,000 for her home in 2012, despite it being valued at $710,000 in 2005.

In 2011, the land was valued at $260,000 and the capital value was $600,000.

In 2012, the year the council made its original offer, the land was valued at $195,000 and the capital value at $540,000.

Last year, the land was valued at $155,000 and the capital value at $485,000.

“It was blackmail that original offer,” Ms Pearce said.

“We were told it would be a one-off, yet how could they (the council) even offer that if they didn’t even have the money to pay us with?

“I just don’t understand how my house could be decreasing in price when houses everywhere are only getting more expensive.”

Ms Pearce said she will not be leaving her home willingly and believes the risk should be hers to take on. “It is unlikely it will occur again,” said Ms Pearce.

“This is a 200- to 500-year event and for it to occur again the rain needs to fall in that exact catchment. It has now been scoured out so even if it were to happen again it is unlikely to be as bad.

“However, the council has now allowed 14 years of crap to overgrow in that stream again.

We offered to do a working bee and clean it out ourselves and mitigate the risk, but they wouldn’t allow us.”

Like her neighbours, Ms Pearce said their home on Clem Elliott Drive was intended to be their retirement home and if they chose to move somewhere smaller it would be their choice.

“I am on a pension now, where am I supposed to go?” she said.

“We have so many family memories here and we thought this would be our last home.

“Instead, the choice has been taken from us and we will end up squatting in our own home as we won’t be leaving willingly.”

charlotte.jones@thebeacon.co.nz