As they drove down Hillsborough Road near Countdown on their way to an appointment, Sacha was sure she could smell smoke. By the time they got to the intersection with Commodore Drive, she was in a full panic attack struggling to breathe, even with the aircon blasting and the windows open. An extreme reaction, but understandable when you realise that just 10 days earlier their rented house went up in flames.
Sacha’s six-year-old son frequently thinks he can smell smoke and struggles to get to sleep at night. Sacha is waking five to six times each night needing to check that her children are ok. Her partner Alan went back to his concrete laying job the week following the fire, but only lasted two days before he could no longer concentrate and took leave.
The family are traumatised and still dealing with shock. They are grateful that they and their dogs are all ok. Their pet fish were not so lucky.
The evening of the fire, Friday 8th February, Sacha and Alan were setting up a tent in the backyard for the boys to sleep in. Sacha wanted to get them off the video game Fortnite and get outside. They had gone into the garage to get mattresses for the tents. Minutes later while Alan, Sacha and one of the boys were in the backyard with the tent, they heard a bang. Turning around they saw smoke coming out of the garage. Screaming, they ran to the house where the other boy had gone to the kitchen for provisions. From then everything became a blur.
Five fire crews turned out, the first one within seven minutes. Rachel Humphrey, a neighbour from further up Commodore, offered to help arrange donations to help the family. Victim Support were also great.
Not so great was the property manager when she phoned him with the bad news, Sacha commented. “He seemed quite angry and when he arrived, he asked how we had started the fire, without even asking if everyone was ok.”
The irony is that the fire started from an electrical fault in the garage where a previous owner had wired in lights. Sacha has since been told that before they rented the house, a property management company had allegedly told the owner that there were electrical issues which would have to be fixed before they could list the rental. The house was subsequently rented privately to them. Since then the house has been on-sold (they had to endure the open homes) and the new owner planned to demolish the house, asking them to vacate before the end of their lease.
It appears that through no fault of their own, this family have lost their entire house lot of contents. Sacha and Alan had discussed getting contents insurance but had never got around to doing it. Now, with 20-20 hindsight, Sacha says “Make sure you are insured!” Her car fortunately was insured as it was burnt out.
Rachel Humphrey was at the fire early on as she lives just a few doors away. Rachel and others were quietly watching as the fire crews tackled the burning house and car when she noticed a woman on a cell phone almost screaming, and realised it was the occupant, Sacha. When Sacha wandered into the middle of the road in shock, Rachel went and brought her back to the footpath and hugged her. Another lady also came up and joined the hug.
Later that evening Rachel set up a donation post on Facebook, and by the time Rachel retired for the night, three people had already called in bringing donations. The community response since then has been huge, with items from clothing to furniture. One man arrived with a washing machine, microwave and cash. Another delivered a home-cooked Indian meal. Lynfield Community Church gave a $200 Countdown voucher and St Vincent de Paul delivered a large box of groceries. One local lady went to see the manager at Countdown, and they donated a voucher for $50.
This enormous outpouring has been a highlight in a very bleak time for the family, and it has really taken them by surprise. Like most of us they are reluctant to ask for help, yet really blessed by the love and generosity of people.
Since the fire the family have been staying with friends, which they are grateful for, but they are looking forward to their own place again.
Two Givealittle pages have so far raised around $6,000. If you would like to donate, Google “Givealittle Lynfield Fire”.
Some questions to consider:
Having a channel to be able to assist victims of tragedies can be cathartic to the rest of us in the community. It empowers us to empathise in a practical way and helps us to process the shock as well.
Puketapapa residents have given a mixture of responses to a survey compiled by the Roskill Community Voice team seeking to give feedback to Auckland Transport on the New Network bus changes introduced in the middle of 2018. 293 bus users responded to an online questionnaire about services affecting the Puketapapa Local Board Area.
In broad terms, 36% of users thought their trips were better for timeliness now, 29% saw no change and 31% worse. Frequency improved for 41.5%, stayed the same for 23.5% and worsened for 32%. Finding space on a bus was easier for 30.5%, unchanged for 41.5%, while it was worse for 25.5%. Changes in bus stop locations were better for 44 users, worse for 58 and unchanged for 144.
Individual responses seeking improvements were focused on the need for express buses at the northern end of the Dominion Road (252, 25B and 25L), the frequency of services to Waikowhai (27W) and Hillsborough (27H), the removal of direct services to Newmarket (previously the 277) and the new service from Lynfield to Blockhouse Bay and New Lynn.
Roskill Community Voice has succeeded in getting the last request met with the campaign for the hourly 191 Service from The Avenue commencing on 24 February. The Double Decker service begun on Dominion Road at the end of December will improve capacity for 25B and 25L commuters. However, the 252 express service via McKinnon Drive requires obstacles to double decker buses to be removed so it is being diverted along View Rd and Karangahape Rd until at least April.
Julie Fairey and David Holm worked on the survey and noted that “the results highlight the importance of public transport for many Puketapapa residents, and the value placed on the increased frequency and simplicity of the new network.” They have found however that there are outstanding issues around easy access to Newmarket, effective express services (252), buses filling up, timing for transfers to work, and other specific problems with bus stops and safe crossing points.
A report coming out of the survey results, including recommendations for Auckland Transport to consider, will be available via the Roskill Community Voice Facebook page www.facebook.com/roskillCV or you can contact us by phone (0279113030) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Since Marcus Amosa was elected Chair of the Avondale Business Association (ABA) last October the old guard has refused to hand over control of the chair position. The situation recently went public with revelations of the dirty politics used, including attempting to remove Marcus’ membership of the ABA.
Some of the executive committee including Duncan Macdonald, Amanda Phillips and Victor Martick have strongly resisted Marcus fulfilling his role as elected Chair. Marcus and his brother Chris have also been trespassed from the offices of the ABA, which are situated in Macdonald’s business, Avondale Appliances, meaning Marcus has not had access to any files or records, despite being recognised by the Auckland Council as the rightfully elected chair.
Auckland Council now has two investigations running and has indicated that funding will be suspended.
When asked for comment, Macdonald responded “Marcus Amosa does not qualify to be a member of the ABA, the company he represented at the election does not pay the separate rate and did not even exist, in my opinion this is election fraud on the basis that he obtained a vote illegally. He was not the only one to do this on the night. Consequent companies he purports to own also do not meet the agreed to prerequisites of being a member.”
Things seem to have changed at the ABA from the previous 2018 term when both Chris and Marcus Amosa were on the ABA committee and now apparently, they are ineligible to even be members of the Association.
The community just want Marcus Amosa to be allowed to get on with his mission to make a real and meaningful difference in Avondale. They felt the sting of a July 2018 article in the Western Leader which described the town centre as ‘derelict’ and ‘third-world’. Comments regarding the article on the I Love Avondale Facebook page indicate that the ABA could and should have done a much better job.
The massive public interest and support on social media for the Amosa brothers has also recently generated plenty of media interest, with the most in-depth article from Madeline Chapman, who documented the whole saga in an article in The Spinoff “The bitter fight tearing Avondale apart”.
Avondale locals are proud of their suburb and love their community. They also appear to have united in support of Marcus Amosa’s leadership of the ABA, desperate for positive change in their local shopping centre.
Marcus says “Despite the way I have personally been treated, there are no ill feelings towards Duncan, Victor, Amanda or any other committee members. It’s encouraging to see so many passionate and engaged people in our community that support positive and meaningful change.”