3 Apr 2013

Council tears down Taranaki hermit's hut

9:50 pm on 3 April 2013

The New Plymouth District Council has demolished a hermit's driftwood and tarpaulin shelter at Tapuae Beach, near Oakura.

Last month the council issued Eric Brewer with a notice to remove the structure and his belongings from the beach, where he has lived for at least 16 years, by 3pm on 27 March but backed off on that deadline.

Eric Brewer at his beach hut.

Eric Brewer at his beach hut. Photo: RNZ

But early on Wednesday morning council contractors and police moved, evicting Mr Brewer and tearing down his shelter with a digger.

The council says he was in breach of the Reserves Act and Public Places bylaw and no-one has the right to live on a public reserve without approval.

Mr Brewer's nephew, Jimo Rangi, says he is angry with what he calls a dawn raid on his uncle's home.

"They came through at about just before 7.30 and told him that they were seizing all his possessions and that they were going to remove the dwelling that he was living in. They had diggers and all sorts of people in white suits - boiler suits - dismantling the place. The whole scene just looked horrible."

He says about three police officers were there.

Mr Rangi says he's upset the council didn't consider a Facebook petition with about 5000 supporters asking for his uncle to be allowed to stay.

Eric Brewer's hut.

Eric Brewer's hut. Photo: RNZ

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.