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A slip in Thornton Bay damaged the back of one home and threatened several more. Photo: SUPPLIED

‘Closure’ imminent for owner of damaged home

Ninety-five year old Dennis Raines can no longer drive past his red-stickered home in Thornton Bay. 

“He’s still really quite upset about the whole thing,” Dennis’ son Neil said. 

“He’s been through a lot.” 

Dennis has not returned to the house since a sea of debris and dirt smashed through his back ranchslider during cyclone Hale in February, prompting a gardener next door to stage a speedy evacuation. 

Instead it sits empty, uninhabitable and adorned with caution tape. 

“Dad said … he was evacuated from London in World War II to the south coast of England and it basically reminded him of that whole thing. It’s almost like his house had been bombed and he had been evacuated away from it. He’s mentioned that a couple of times,” Neil said. 

“He’s got a great little unit in town [now] but it hasn’t got the sea views. He’s still settling in, he finds it really strange. And of course the older you get the harder it is to adjust to new environments.” 

The family is ready to put the whole ordeal behind them and has put the home up for auction with Harcourts, in a $1 reserve auction scheduled for October 28. 

Dennis Raines, 95, was at home when his Thornton Bay house was hit by the slip. Photo: SUPPLIED

Neil and his brother Clive have been dealing with the insurance company, lawyers and geotech specialists investigating the landslide to take the pressure off Dennis, who Neil said was overwhelmed with the media attention garnered by the unusual auction format. 

“It’s really hitting a raw nerve,” Neil said.

“Dad doesn’t even want to be at the auction, it’s just too stressful for him.” 

Although the location – on the seafront along the coveted Thames Coast – is a winner, the issues the property faces could make it a challenging sale. 

Disclosure statements on the home’s Harcourts listing state the property is being sold on an “as is, where is” basis, and note the still-existing landslip and red-stickered status of the house.

Dennis Raines says his evacuation from his slip-damaged home during Cyclone Hale was like reliving evacuations due to bombing in WWII. Photo: SUPPLIED

But the family doesn’t care about the price: they want closure. 

“We’ve done all we can to market it and [Harcourts agent] Steven’s done a pretty good job of that  – it’s been in all the papers, it’s probably been a bit of overkill,” Neil said. 

“If someone’s prepared to wait and look on it all as a bit of a landbanking thing  – it’s a great position.

“As long as it goes for $1 it doesn’t really matter, and the market will decide what it’s worth.” 

Neil said Dennis was coping well, despite the changes in his life. 

“He’s still got all his marbles – we took him out for lunch on Sunday and we had a great old time,” Neil said. 

“And he’s still cracking jokes. He’s doing pretty well, considering.” 

Although the circumstances were difficult, Neil said moving into town had also been helpful in some ways, with Dennis’ new home being more manageable and closer to friends. 

“The osteoarthritis is beginning to affect him a bit more and the mobility,” Neil said. 

“Really, it’s actually worked out probably for the best because it was a big house, and had a steep path to get up. He sort of tipped over his wheelbarrow once when he was heading up with his shopping and ended up in the bushes.

“[Now] it’s all on the level, he can drive into the garage.” 

See for auction details. 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air