Court: Hall could not be evicted
Central Hawke’s Bay’s Orua Wharo homestead lessee Denis Hall could not be evicted on evidence which had been given in the High Court, Napier, last month, Justice Goddard said in a judgement released last week.
Justice Goddard said based on evidence put forward so far by the homestead trustees, the court could not give a ruling on the case.
“The matter must proceed to trial, if necessary,” she said.
The trustees want to evict lessee Denis Hall for allegedly not maintaining Orua Wharo to the standard stated in the lease. Mr Hall has been living rent-free in the homestead for 21 years in return for maintenance of the homestead, out-buildings and land. He was also expected, under terms of the lease, to run the homestead as a country lodge.
In his defence, Mr Hall produced a statement saying the house was in sound order. He said he had not taken in guests because of the stench from Richmond Ltd spraying effluent on surrounding paddocks. Justice Goddard said in her judgement she was satisfied the standard of maintenance envisaged by the lease was being met.
However, clarification was needed to define what was meant by a “high standard of maintenance” and it was not clear what “maintenance” meant – actual restoration, renovation and/or improvements. The costs and extent of repairs to the homestead were not clear and needed clarification and resolution as did the extent of maintenance expected to non-public parts of the homestead.
There was conflict as to whether the structure and integrity of the homestead was at risk and she wanted clarification of the extent to which the property had been used for guests and functions.
Justice Goddard said resolution of the issues could not be achieved without cross examination and possible further evidence, and it must proceed a trial.
Mr Hall was granted $3000 for costs incurred in the case.
Trustee spokesman Kevin McKay said on Monday it was too early to say whether they would take the case to trial. He stressed the trustees did not want to demolish the building, but believes something must be done before the building deteriorates to a point where it is beyond repair.
One option was to sell land surrounding the homestead, however it is unlikely that would cover the cost of restoration. It has been estimated that more than $200,000 is needed to renovate the homestead. Mr Hall’s lease expires in 2004 and Mr McKay believes the best option would be to sell the homestead for removal.
‘It could be a magnificent attraction in the right setting. I personally think that would be the answer. It would then be preserved and a viable proposition.’
However, the Historic Places Trust has stated in the past (at an informal meeting in 1992) that the homestead should be preserved on site, as the “historical significance of the homestead would be lost if it was removed elsewhere”. Mr Hall was not available for comment.
Photo captions –
Orua Wharo homestead