You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Life has been a struggle for Ms Pikia and her three children since the lease on her Dunedin home was not renewed in December.
For some of the time since, she and her two youngest children - a 2-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy - had been sleeping in her car, parking it overnight in St Kilda, Kensington Oval, Unity Park and outside the Dunedin Night Shelter.
For the last three and a bit weeks they had been put up by the Ministry of Social Development in the Leviathan Hotel in Queens Gardens.
She said it was ‘‘pretty embarrassing’’ not being able to provide a home for her children.
‘‘I’ve even been called a s... mum because I don’t have a house.’’
It was not for want of trying. She had applied for at least 30 houses, but her bad credit history had made signing a lease all but impossible.
Not having a house to call home meant her children had suffered from a lack of routine and her 13-year-old daughter was temporarily living with her father in Invercargill.
‘‘My son always says ‘can we go home now?’ ’’
He was toilet trained last year but with everything being so unsettled, he was now back in nappies.
She knew there were others in her situation in Dunedin and had seen other people sleeping in cars.
She admitted she had made mistakes in the past and was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. But continuing to stay away from temptation and rebuilding her life was not made any easier by the stress she was under.
''Those thoughts still run through my head, because it’s so easy to give up rather than keep going.
‘‘I would say that I will take responsibility for the things I have done.
‘‘But I’ve learnt from those choices and I just need the opportunity to prove that I have learnt from those.’’
She still held out hope life would improve soon.
‘‘Slowly but surely, I know that once I have a home, everything will go back to stability or normality.’’