When Jimaima had a stroke, her world was turned upside down.

Her children supported her, but she was faced with the reality that things were going to be different for her from then on.

“My life changed, everything changed when I had my stroke. I was a working woman, I never stayed home … now I still can’t do some things for myself.”

Not being able to work meant not having her own home. While she waited, she was “all over the place”, staying with cousins, her children, moving from place to place.

Her family helped her move to Australia to see if things would be better there, but when Covid-19 hit she moved back to Christchurch to stay with a cousin, going back on the Housing Register.

One day, Jimaima happened across the office of Wigram MP Dr Megan Woods, whose local team supported her to complete a more comprehensive needs assessment for her application on the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Housing Register.

Jimaima and Senior Tenancy Manager Rochelle share a laugh.

Letters from health professionals showed how important it was she receive a high priority rating from MSD, and Kāinga Ora was able to place her in a brand new home – one of eight new one- and two-bedroom units which replaced three that were no longer fit for purpose.

“When they rang me I was in tears,” she said.

“I couldn’t believe it was a brand new house. I went into my room, locked myself in my room and prayed, thanked the lord.”

In her new home she has space where she plans to plant flowers. She is warm and safe, and has already started developing relationships with her neighbours – one of whom she has begun taking trips with to their new local church.

“I feel good. Even though I’m taking some medication, I feel good that I’ve got my own roof, I’ve got my own space. Now my kids can come and see me every day.”

With five children and 13 grandchildren, Jimaima now has a place for family to come together.

“They always come over on the weekends, and we have lunch every Sunday with all of my kids … they say ‘Mum, you’ve got such a nice place’. That’s why I always tell them to pray. God is always answering prayers.”

Jimaima’s new place is just one of 260 new homes delivered in Canterbury by Kāinga Ora in 2020. That includes 50 transitional housing spaces.

Senior Tenancy Manager Rochelle, who manages the new units where Jimaima lives with her neighbours, said it was great to see how well her new customers were doing in their homes.

“Being able to help people get into and do well in their new homes is what I love about my job, and it’s awesome to see how well Jimaima is doing,” Rochelle said.

“With everything she’s been through, I can only imagine how much of a relief it must be for her to have a new, warm home she can call her own, and I feel lucky to be able to be a part of that.”

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Page updated: 25 February 2021