Like a lot of Kiwis, Stuart was an avid rugby player growing up. But after sustaining a serious spine and neck injury while playing for his high school team, his life has never been the same.

After dealing with the limitations of his injury throughout his life, mental health challenges and living in Christchurch through the earthquakes, Stuart moved to Dunedin for a fresh start.

Stuart with some of his work

Having lived happily in a private rental for more than six years, Stuart found himself in hospital needing heart surgery.

“Post-surgery I was no longer able to cover my rent and needed somewhere else to live. That’s when I was lucky enough to be offered a Kāinga Ora home,” Stuart says.

Stuart moved into a one-bedroom Kāinga Ora home with his cat Little One in June 2020 and they're both thriving there.

“It’s been the perfect base for me to focus on my wellbeing and has given me the freedom to work on my art,” says Stuart.

“I’m really enjoying spending time here and honing my airbrushing skills. I have awesome neighbours and we all look out for each other.”

Stuart’s home has recently been upgraded as part of Kāinga Ora’s retrofit programme. This has included the installation of double glazing, insulation and a complete refit of the kitchen and bathroom, as well as a full redecoration of the interior.

Stuart is thrilled with his upgraded home – Little One has given the work ‘four out of four paws’ and Stuart has noticed a real difference in the warmth of the property.

“I hardly have to turn on heating anymore even on cold days – and that’s saying something for Dunedin,” Stuart jokes.

“My neighbours and I have all commented on how awesome the upgrades to our homes have been and we’re really looking forward to enjoying the homes through next winter.” 

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Page updated: 18 January 2023