High-rise owner was 'trying to help' family

12:42 am on 23 November 2016

A Wellington property group was trying to help a family by letting them live in a high-rise building now scheduled for demolition, it says.

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Ernest and Olive Mape, pictured, had been living with their family at 61 Molesworth St. Photo: RNZ / Mei Heron / Screenshot

The building at 61 Molesworth St is one of three in the city with confirmed structural damage after last week's earthquake, along with Statistics House and a car park building near Courtenay Central.

View RNZ's full coverage of the earthquakes here.

The Wellington City Council said yesterday that its owner did not have residential consent for it but several people were living there.

One resident, Olive Mape, said yesterday she did not know living in the building was illegal, and she did not get support from the property manager once the building was deemed unsafe.

The building's owner, Prime Property Group, said in a statement it accepted it should not have allowed Ms Mape's family to live in the building.

"The fact that we did so was motivated purely by trying to help."

It said it had tried to contact them, but they had refused to speak to the property manager.

"The family has told media outlets that they had not heard from our property manager - this is incorrect. In fact, the family has refused to talk to him."

The group said the family was moved to 61 Molesworth St when their old residence suffered water damage in late May, after rejecting the offer of a "luxurious" apartment in Oriental Bay.

"Our property manager immediately moved the family into a three-bedroom, luxury, fully-furnished apartment in Oriental Bay, which is the only one we had available at the time."

The apartment was "superior" to their previous accommodation, but he offered to rent it to the Mapes at the same rate of $570 a week. It was previously rented for $1200 a week.

"This was rejected because the family wanted to be in its previous school zone."

The building on Molesworth St was not deemed earthquake-prone at the time, and was meant as temporary accommodation.

Prime Property said the family paid $300 a week to live there and was allowed to leave without notice at any time.

It said it gave notice to the family to leave in October after becoming concerned about the situation, but they elected to stay.

It had moved the Mape family out after the earthquake, and they were currently staying at the Hotel St George.

The Mapes said yesterday they couldn't get insurance following the earthquake and had lost irreplaceable family possessions.

RNZ has kept a running list of all the buildings in Wellington affected since the quake last Monday morning, and has marked them in the map below.

Red markers include the three buildings confirmed with structural damage, as well as Defence House, which remains in question. Orange markers are for buildings which remain closed. Green markers are for buildings which have now re-opened.

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