27 Mar 2013

Taranaki hermit gets reprieve from eviction

7:02 pm on 27 March 2013

New Plymouth District Council has backed down from evicting a Taranaki hermit from his driftwood and tarpaulin beach shanty on the outskirts of the city.

The council issued a statement late on Wednesday afternoon saying it won't take immediate action to move Eric Brewer from his illegal dwelling at Tapuae Beach, near Oakura, where he has lived for at least 16 years.

The council says no-one has the right to live on a public reserve without approval but it's not seeking to stop Mr Brewer using the reserve.

Eric Brewer at his beach hut.

Eric Brewer at his beach hut. Photo: RNZ

Chief executive Barbara McKerrow says the challenge is to find a balanced response between complaints made about Mr Brewer while also being sensitive to his circumstances.

After receiving complaints about his erratic behaviour, the council had told Mr Brewer he must remove his hut and possessions from the secluded beach by 3pm on Wednesday.

At that time Mr Brewer was relaxing in his driftwood hut, describing it as "non-event".

About 25 family and friends were there to support him.

Eric Brewer's hut.

Eric Brewer's hut. Photo: RNZ

Mr Brewer's nephew, Jimo Rangi, says he earlier presented the deputy mayor with a Facebook page with more than 4500 "likes", asking that Mr Brewer be allowed to stay.

Residents of the gated housing estate above Tapuae Beach are among those who have complained the 62-year-old roams naked, trespasses, yells abuse and has waved sticks at cars but many other people believe he is not causing any harm.