Cold, old and rundown - that is how some of South Dunedin's
residents describe the area and it is often how the area is
perceived by those outside it.
What is not so apparent is the tightness of community, the
positivity of residents and the hope each new generation
holds for a brighter future.
South Dunedin is the most deprived area in Otago, according
to the latest Socioeconomic Deprivation Index, and while
those South Dunedin residents who spoke to the Otago Daily
Times had not heard of the index, its results were
South Dunedin resident Karen Butler (52) said the suburb had
not changed since she was a child.
''All these houses ... have been the same since I was a wee
girl,'' she said.
''There's a lot of poverty in this area.''
She considered herself one of the area's luckier residents
because she had a full-time job and even though she received
the minimum wage, it was more than some did.
''There's a lot of people that don't work,'' she said.
''People don't really have choices.''
Despite the scarcity many of the area's residents face, she
had no concerns about living in the area and the feeling of
community was one of the suburb's redeeming aspects.
It was also why Barry Robson (63) called the area home.
''I love it,'' he said.
While the suburb's residents were not well off financially,
they were ''good neighbours''.
Mr Robson lived on the unemployment benefit, topped up by a
''$2.80 a week disability allowance'' for his missing left
eye, and although he would like a job, he was pragmatic about
''I can't get a job, because of my eye,'' he said.
''I have got a couple of flatmates, so we don't really
struggle. We manage to still pay the power bill and the phone
bill. We only just get there. It's not easy, but what do you
When Maria Espie (47) relocated to the area in March last
year, it held the prospect of an affordable and ''decent''
house for her and her family, something her former home town,
Christchurch, did not.
She had found the area to be ''sociable'' and had quickly
The area held a lot of potential, but somebody ''just needs
to clean it up''.
Catholic Social Services director Ian Donnelly said while
investment in housing would be part of a solution to South
Dunedin's socioeconomic deprivation, the real key was jobs.
''Meaningful work that gives people a decent income to meet
their basic needs ... that's what needs to be continuously
looked at,'' he said.
About one-third of the South Dunedin-based social services
agency's clients came from the area and while they faced ''a
range of issues'', many of them related to a lack of
meaningful work, he said.
''There is low income [in South Dunedin] and people always
struggle if they haven't got enough to meet their basic needs
and that's what we find.
''People here are doing their very best to cover their rent
and basic costs, feeding their kids and clothing their kids,
but there isn't enough.''
While he did not know where the jobs could come from, ''some
investment in the South Dunedin area ... would help to get
things moving'', he said.
''We are helping people to cope, but it's not always going to
solve the problem.''