Ninety-three-year-old Emerar Crummer and her daughter Jacki Brown were looking forward to moving home to Rarotonga.
They claim they paid CM Contractors $162,000 to build a home for their family where Crummer would be able to sit in her living room chair and look out at her father’s grave.
But only five weeks after the builders broke ground, they found work had stopped.
CM Contractors is owned by Sam Capper and former Miss Cook Islands Teau McKenzie. Capper yesterday said people needed to understand there were “many working parts” to the construction business.
Yesterday, Capper said he too was owed money by Rarotonga locals. He did not confirm he owed money to Brown – but he did say he has been in ongoing discussions with locals and suppliers.
“Cash flow in a business is king,” he explained. “When you take a narrow mind/viewpoint in regards to one client when we have built 26 dwellings inside three years throughout the Cook Islands.”
He warned Cook Islands News should be “very careful printing anything without confirming the facts involved otherwise we will see the people or companies involved in court.”
“As you can believe in a construction business there are many working parts to it.”
Lawyer David McNair said he was representing another client with the same problem concerning CM Contractors, which had not yet gone to court.
Sydney-based Jacki Brown said she had emailed back and forth with Capper and McKenzie, discussing the progress.
But when Brown arrived in Rarotonga, she found only the foundations laid and wooden frames, with no builders on site.
The head builder told her CM Contractors had stopped paying the builders, she said, and that’s why work had stopped.
Brown could not reach CM Contractors, she said, so she was forced to pay again: to pay the builders, and to buy building materials herself.
“The financial distress of continuing to build Mum’s house has taken its toll on our family. We have paid in effect for two houses but only have one.”
She chose the company because Capper and McKenzie had modern building ideas and she had heard one rave review from a friend.
“We have patiently waited for four months for a response from CM and there has been an ominous silence,” she said.
“Mum’s dream has been to come home and to ensure that her grandchildren who were born overseas, have connection to their ancestry and culture here on Rarotonga. This dream has turned into a nightmare because of these people.”