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Source: Housing New Zealand Corporation

Sue has been a tenant in a block of central Auckland pensioner flats for about ten years and is thrilled with their recent make over.

It’s an even better place to live now that the one-bedroom units are warmer and dryer, she says.

Sue moved from a front unit to one near the back during the renovations. “It’s beautiful here. I’ve got a lovely outlook and it’s so private.”

The exteriors of the 29 flats were transformed from brown to cream and light pastels. “Everyone’s remarked on the new colours and how nice they are,” Sue says.

The works also included replacing parts of the exterior cladding and roofs, as well as creating better drainage. Effective insulation was added and parts of the interiors were repaired, repainted and replaced.

“You can feel the difference it’s made. It was pretty cold before,” Sue says. Other improvements to her home included putting in a new toilet system and new lino in the bathroom. The kitchen was repainted and new windows were added in the bathroom.

Sue lives in a fully accessible home because she had a stroke nearly 30 years ago.

Tenant Sue says gardening restores her soul.

“I’ve still got one-sided weakness and I can’t pick things up properly with my right hand. I drag my foot and I fall over easily so I use a walker when I leave the complex.”

Sue, who trained as a nurse, was only 39 when the stroke occurred. “It was a really freaky thing to happen. I felt something pop in my head. I felt lost and started losing my speech. As the paralysis crept down my face and body, it felt like ice cracking.”

She had to learn to walk and talk again and has been left with epilepsy and dyslexia. But Sue’s sense of humour and positive outlook mean she doesn’t dwell on the past.

“My attitude is: pick yourself up, dust yourself off, look at what you’ve got and get going. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Life is too short.”

Nowadays Sue, who is 66, loves to spend time in her garden. A multitude of colourful flowers border the path and the front of her property.

“Having a garden restores my soul,” she says. “When I had my stroke and had to move closer to the hospital, the first thing I did was put a garden in. It wasn’t much but I had to have a garden.”

She loves her home and has no plans to move. “I’m happy where I am. I’m lucky to be alive and I really appreciate that.”

MIL OSI