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Homeowners say squatters trashed their home

Wednesday 8 June 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Local, National

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Homeowners say squatters trashed their home
Louise and Paterson Paiti stand in front of a heap of rubbish on their family section, remnants from what they think was a squatter. Photo: Caleb Fotheringham/22060720

Sister and brother, Louise and Paterson Paiti have just returned to their family home in Arorangi to find a soiled mattress, dozens of empty beer bottles and a cut down toa tree in a heap.

Louise, who is currently living in Byron Bay in Australia, and Paterson living in Wellington, both said they suspect a squatter took advantage of the borders being closed during the pandemic.

The pair have just returned to Rarotonga after two and a half years to scatter their sisters' ashes.

“Someone has been squatting in it, there’s a lot of rubbish, they’ve cut down trees, we’ve got a whole big section full of the debris, there’s an old fridge and broken glass,” Louise said.

“It’s not like they’ve gone and graffitied everything, they’ve just been living here without care.

“Usually we would be coming and going but obviously we haven’t been able to for the last couple of years.

“They knew there wouldn’t be a chance of anyone visiting outside of the island.”

Paterson said it was a shock when he first saw the house in its state.

Paterson is staying in the house with his partner until Friday and said the place is now livable following a massive clean-up.    

However, he said one of the mattresses will “probably have to be turfed”.

Louise said they suspected the home was being used by a squatter, rather than as a party house after speaking to neighbours who confirmed they saw someone living in it, but also because pawpaw trees were planted on the side of the property.

A laptop and computer monitor were stolen from the house, she said.

Louise said they reported the matter to police on Tuesday.

Police spokesman Trevor Pitt said police received no squatter complaints while the borders were shut, but there were occasional disputes over houses and property which fell into the civil matters jurisdiction.

“Police only intervene in criminal matters, or crime prevention. Civil disputes may cross the line if physical violence is involved, for instance,” Pitt said.

The house was where Paterson and Louise’s father grew up.

Louise said they did not have anyone officially looking after the house when they were away but had a cousin who did regular check-ins.

Louise said she did not know why someone cut down the toa tree on the section.