For Lester, moving into a Kāinga Ora house last month has been truly life changing. Not only is it a brand-new home, but it has been designed specifically to meet the accessibility needs of a wheelchair user – allowing Lester to regain his independence.

After losing the use of his legs as a result of a spinal infection, Lester found it difficult to live well in his private rental. With a steep entrance, stairs, narrow doorways and high benchtops, Lester had to rely on help to not only get in and out of his home but live within it.

“To begin with, I couldn’t move my legs or hands. Overnight I’d gone from being a hardworking man to being paralysed,” recalls Lester.

“The letting agent wouldn’t agree to adjustments like a ramp to make it accessible for me, which meant I had to be carried in and out by my kids. It was scary for everyone because it wasn’t safe, so I stopped going out.”

But all of that changed earlier this year when Lester was offered a brand-new Kāinga Ora home in South Auckland.

With wide door frames and hallways, a wet room and a kitchen he can navigate easily, it was the perfect set up for Lester and his daughter, Jada Lee who is a big source of support to him. There was even a hoist he could use to get himself in and out of bed, and easy access to a deck and garden.

“He’s much happier here than at our last house,” says Jada Lee. “Back there, he never came out of his room but once we moved, he was happy. Now he’s out every day - it’s good to see him smiling again.”

Now able to move around his new home with ease, Lester says he’s already noticed his energy lifting.

“As time goes by, I’m getting my independence back and getting back into the things I love – I’ve even gotten back into painting and carving,” he says.

“I particularly love spending time with my moko (grandchildren). They like having little rides with me in my wheelchair.”

This Christmas, Lester is hosting a BBQ for his Auckland whānau at his new home – something he is really looking forward to.

“It’s going to feel completely different – just easy. I can easily move through the sliding glass doors to get out to the BBQ or sit in the garden with the family. It’s going to be a very special Christmas.”

Media Contact

Page updated: 7 December 2023