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Lifestyle blocks – are they worth the work? ...

Posted at 8:00am Friday 11 Jun, 2021

Jenny and Bruce Eirena in front of their temporary accommodation on their lifestyle block. They value simplicity and being debt free.
Jenny and Bruce Eirena in front of their temporary accommodation on their lifestyle block. They value simplicity and being debt free.

Lifestyle blocks are becoming more common in Mahurangi. What is their appeal? And is it all worth it? Communications student Alisha McLennan talks to lifestyle blockers old and new to find out …


A haven for missionaries
Jenny and Bruce, Kaipara Flats

Jenny and Bruce Eirena recently moved onto some land in the Kaipara Flats area. They work for a non-profit organisation, so they were wanting to harness a more reliable income stream from the land long-term.

“We value simplicity and we value debt-free,” Jenny says.  

Their family moved back to New Zealand last year after working as missionaries in Papua New Guinea.

“Living in a third world country was really hard and really stressful. Our plans for the land are tied in with creating an environment and a place where people can come. It can be a sanctuary for other missionaries in transition.”

Jenny says that they see themselves more as caretakers of the land than landowners.

Temporary accommodation is currently housing the family. They want to live on the land before committing to a permanent house and secondary dwelling.

“It's kind of a 20-year plan. I believe slow is good,” Jenny says.

She says she understands there are complex issues around lifestyle blocks.

“I am aware that I am costing New Zealand in farmland, so I need to use this land that belongs to New Zealand and God really well,” she says.


A chance to shoot some arrows 
Gerald and Sharon, Wellsford

Gerald and Sharon North have recently moved from Warkworth into a house with a 10-acre section in the Wellsford area. With three of their children having moved out of home, this new land was more appealing than their five-bedroom Warkworth property. It was also a cheaper option for the couple than living in town.

“We wanted to move into an area where there was some native bush land. I enjoy the outdoors,” Gerald says.

Gerald competes in New Zealand Field Archery Association competitions and is going to set up an archery range for training purposes.

The couple also want to plant an orchard before spring.  


Four years living in a bus
Stephen and Nikki, Tauhoa

Stephen and Nikki Dunn are in their 15th year on their lifestyle block in Tauhoa. They decided to move there for financial reasons, finding they could not afford a home in the city.

“With two kids and on one income, we were just hard-up. We wanted to keep the mortgage as low as possible.” Stephen says.

After buying the land, the family would travel up on weekends and stay in a tent while Stephen worked on a driveway. In 2006, the couple and their two young children moved in – living in a bus for the next four and a half years while building a house.

Nikki says there are a lot of companies that, if you tell them you are building a house, they will give you a trade account because you are going to be a regular customer.

These trade accounts got them savings from places like Mitre 10, Carters and Bunnings.

They also saved money by getting friends and family to help. In 2011, the family moved into their new home.

The negatives so far include living 30 minutes from any town, a lack of cell phone coverage and a metal road. This does not bother Stephen or Nikki though.

“It's absolutely quiet, it's really nice,” Stephen says.

Nikki enjoys the quiet too. “When you're going home, you really do go home,” she says.

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