For Craig, neatly manicured lawns, flowers and shrubs are more than just about garden pride – they’re a way to honour his mother.

Even the most eagle-eyed would struggle to find a single weed in the Christchurch-based Kāinga Ora customer’s garden. Dahlias and pansies are dotted throughout among sculptures of owls, cactuses and bird baths.

“If you can find a weed I’ll shout you a bottle of champagne,” he says with a laugh.

Glenice, Craig’s mother, once lived just metres away in another Kāinga Ora home. When she moved into a retirement village, she left for her son many of the items he now proudly displays in his garden. Soon after, she sadly passed away. The impact on Craig was profound.

man being presented with a certificate

Tenancy Manager Alyssa presents a certificate of appreciation and voucher to Kāinga Ora customer Craig, whose garden is kept immaculate in memory of his late mother.

“My mother had great integrity,” he said. “She loved people and she always kept her place immaculate. All the time. I’m proud of that – that my parents brought me up that way – because now that’s my trait, to keep things looking sharp.”

Armed with just a torpedo hoe, spade and long-handle edge clippers, Craig keeps his lawn and garden pristine as an homage to Glenice. But it also has a positive impact on his wellbeing.

“I do it for my pride and dignity and to make myself feel good. So I can look out that window and say ‘gosh that garden is looking sharp’. It makes me feel proud.

“The Government doesn’t owe me anything and I’m privileged and blessed to have a house, and it’s up to me to honour that.”

Alyssa, Craig’s Tenancy Manager, wanted to show her support and gratitude for his efforts, so recently awarded Craig with a certificate of appreciation and hardware store voucher. Craig plans to use the money to restore a bird bath given to him by Glenice.

“I was privileged to be Glenice’s Tenancy Manager as well, before she moved into her rest home,” Alyssa said.

“It’s devastating to lose a loved one, but I think she would be really proud of how Craig has managed his loss and kept such a beautiful memorial to his mother.

“Seeing Craig’s dedication to his home and garden is an inspiration, and chatting with him is always a pleasure.”

man in a garden looking at a birdbath

Craig plans to restore the bird bath given to him by his mother.

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Page updated: 8 July 2020