Selina-Jane Lyons (seated) and husband Andy Lyons (left),
pictured in their home as a housing contractor fixes their
hot water cylinder. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Housing New Zealand says it will apologise personally to
a family that lost its hot water for most of last week after a
litany of errors by bungling staff.
The organisation accepted the problem had been a
''significant inconvenience'' for Halfway Bush tenant
Selina-Jane Lyons, her husband, Andy Lyons, who is blind and
has a heart condition, and their two young children.
But it was the actions of - or lack of action from - staff at
Housing New Zealand's call centre that really upset Mrs
She has questioned a 2012 change that requires tenants to
ring a national call centre, rather than call or visit their
And despite her local manager this week giving her cellphone
and landline numbers to call in future, she is concerned
about people without the wherewithal to contact the media and
members of Parliament, as she has done.
Last Saturday, Mrs Lyons found water pouring on to her front
steps - ''a strong flow'' - from the hot water system in her
She rang the Housing New Zealand call centre and was told
someone would attend to the problem within four hours.
During that time she, or another adult, was required to wait
at the premises, or she would be charged for a missed
Five hours later, nobody had come.
She rang again and was told the first call had not been
logged, but it would be logged again, again with the
requirement that she wait at the premises.
This time a contractor came, explained the ball cock was
broken, and fixed it. But the water did not rise in
temperature above tepid, meaning the family could not shower
and had to boil water to wash dishes.
On Tuesday, after realising the water was not going to
reheat, Ms Lyons rang the call centre again, and was told
again to wait for the four-hour period.
A contractor came and decided the thermostat was the problem.
Ms Lyons was told the water should be hot within two hours,
but that did not happen.
She rang again on Wednesday evening and was again told, after
a 40-minute wait on hold, to wait for the four-hour period
and somebody would come.
She was told it was not possible to organise the work for the
next day. During two more calls, she could not speak to a
supervisor or complaints team, her tenancy manager or another
She again had to wait four hours before the problem was
finally fixed on Thursday evening.
Yesterday, she said the problem had been fixed.
''I think it's great,'' she said of the promised apology.
''I think it's great I actually managed to get someone to
Housing New Zealand tenancy services general manager Kay Read
said she was '' very disappointed'' to hear about the Lyons'
''I can see that this process has caused her a significant
inconvenience and I have asked my team to look into how this
happened to make sure it doesn't happen again.''
The service experienced a ''very high'' number of calls
during the period due to the bad weather, but should have
been able to handle the situation better. Someone from the
organisation would visit the family to apologise.