Costs force family out


Surviving in Queenstown on one wage has become impossible for a young couple and their 10-month-old baby.

In an attempt to make ends meet Liam and Mikaela (not their real names) and their baby have moved 45 minutes out of town - to Garston.

Since their son was born they have been living off Liam’s wage as a builder. But it’s not enough.

Mikaela says he earns too much money to receive benefits but barely enough for the family to eat.

“Does Liam just go out and work in a supermarket [to qualify]? That’s ridiculous.”

They were paying more than $700 a week for a four-bedroom house in Queenstown.

Now they’re paying $250 a week for the same number of bedrooms - and a great deal more land.

But fuel costs even out the savings.

Mikaela: “I go to Happiness House, they’re absolutely amazing. We’ve been really struggling and they help with a food parcel every Friday.”

There have been times when she’s needed to come into town to get a food parcel and had no money for petrol.

Even then Work and Income can’t help.

“They want to help and they realise that the situation is dire but the system won’t let them,” she says.

For the past month their baby attends daycare two days a week while Mikaela looks for work.

“Because of the drive in I can’t really start a nine to five [job]. Even if I could put my baby in daycare for that long I’d have to wake up at like 4am - it’s insane.”

Some of Mikaela’s friends are also struggling. She says: “They’re all looking for random people to live with them - it’s tearing them apart.”

The couple are considering moving to Christchurch.

“It’s ridiculous to be a local family that are from here - we can’t compete with the housing prices so we’re kicked out.”