Alf will be going out to bat for Nga Behekite and Spiky today.
He hopes she and her canine companion get support from other politicians, too, as she fights heartless Housing NZ bureaucrats.
Nga Behekite – according to a report at Stuff (here) – has lived in the same Housing NZ home for 15 years.
But she may be evicted if she does not find a new home for Spiky, her dog, by the end of the day.
This will be happening – it seems – even though a neighbouring shopkeeper happens to think Spiky has been doing a grand job in the crime-fighting department by deterring thieves.
Naturally, this is not doing much for Nga’s stress levels.
Manurewa resident Nga Behekite says she is upset and stressed after being ordered to get rid of her pet Spiky because she doesn’t have HNZ approval, despite having had a dog at the house for the past 13 years.
Housing NZ’s side of the story is nothing too compelling. In a nutshell: rules are rules and they require written permission.
Yep, if you ask nicely the nabobs will allow tenants to keep dogs.
This means they have the power to permit Nga to keep Spiky, but sorry, they won’t be exercising it in her favour in this case.
The dog must go to maintain ensure the records are accurate (even though granting permission now would achieve the same thing).
HNZ’s South Auckland tenancy manager Denise Fink said Behekite did not seek permission to have a dog at the property and there was no record of one being there.
“As there is a dog at the property without our permission, we have issued the tenant with a remedy notice which requests the dog to be removed by May 31.
“Tenants are not allowed to keep pets or other animals at the premises unless they have asked us formally and we have agreed.
“We have discussed this matter with the tenant and even if permission is sought, it is unlikely it would be given in this case.”
But hold on a mo.
HNZ says it has no record of a dog at the property – yep, we’ve got that.
But how come they did not notice it during regular inspections?
And how can they be sure the failure to record the dog’s presence was not a bureaucratic oversight?
Most of all, is this the best they can come up with in support of their decision?
There’s no suggestion Spiky has been making life hell for neighbours, that he has fouled property… or anything except he does not show up on the records.
Behekite said she finds it hard to believe the state landlord did not know.
“In 1997 when I first moved here I asked HNZ if it was OK to bring my dog here and they said it was all right. And when the repairmen come they always ask ‘do you have a dog?’ and they ask me to tie it up.
“I got a shock when the lady told me I have to move him straight away. He’s not a rubbish bag l just throw away. He’s a family member.”
Then there’s the matter of Spikey’s worthy role in the law and order department.
Behekite said Spiky kept her, and her neighbourhood, safe.
Her home, which backs on to Rowandale Reserve, has been burgled twice in 15 years, but not on Spiky’s watch.
“If you take my dog away and someone burgles our house, will HNZ give my stuff back? I don’t think so.
“Young ones drink in the park so my dog is good security.”
Nga has at least one supporter on this matter.
Hasmukh Patel, owner of neighbouring Rowandale Superette, wants Spiky to stay.
“Newspapers and bread used to go missing from behind my shop because people would jump over the fence. But since she’s had the dog the stealing has stopped. And if the dog goes, we’ll have the same problem.
“I told Nga, if she wants we can do a petition because the dog is security for us.”
HNZ says it will lodge an application with the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the issue through mediation if the dog isn’t removed by today.
Here’s hoping the tribunal puts common sense ahead of a rule book which would allow Spiky to stay if only the bureaucrats could overcome their chagrin at not finding him mentioned in their records.