Elderly residents given days to evacuate retirement home

Elderly residents of an Auckland retirement village are being given more time to leave homes found to be too dangerous to live in.

The 34 residents of Eastcliffe Retirement Village on Bastion Point failed leaky homes tests and fire safety tests, and had been told to leave immediately.

Crumbling cladding is a tell-tale sign of a leaky home.

But this is worse - recent x-rays show builders didn't even bother to put steel in walls, turning damp homes into deathtraps.

"In the event of a fire or an earthquake we just can't guarantee the ability of people to get out in time and save their lives," Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Rawa director Ngarimu Blair says.

A $12 million reclad is now probably a demolition. Residents who thought they'd spend their last days here must move out.

Ms Blair says they are "justifiably very unsettled, some of them very upset. Some would prefer that they didn't move."

"We thought we'd be carried out of here in a box," resident Jan Tubb says.

Ms Tubb and her husband, John, are luckier than most. They only need to move 100 metres within the same complex. Anger has dissipated and they don't blame the owners, Ngāti Whātua.

"We're taking it a step at a time but I guess that for some who are less able than us it's just a horrifying prospect," she says.

Residents have six options, including moving to a hotel in the city, family, or another retirement village.

But Guy Macindoe's 88-year-old mother thought she had the best retirement village unit in New Zealand.

"[We] hadn't expected this to happen. We knew there were water-tightness issues but not that she was going to have to get out and not come back."

"And for her at her age she won't be coming back… and that's the hardest thing for her to deal with."

Managers maintain the situation is still urgent but they have relaxed their hard line, now giving residents a few days to sort themselves out. They say questions about when or whether to rebuild - or take legal action - are for later. Their priority is the residents' welfare.