James and Raymond Dunn have been given an eleventh hour reprieve from being ousted from their Otangarei house by Housing New Zealand.
The state housing authority postponed the time the house had to be vacated - from noon yesterday until tomorrow , pending the Dunns' application to appeal eviction being heard in Whangarei District Court today.
The brothers, and two of Raymond's young children, were first told to leave in April after the death of their mother Rina Dunn, whose name was on the tenancy agreement with Housing New Zealand.
The Dunns have been trying to negotiate with HNZC to transfer the tenancy to them.
The housing authority said that would be in breach of a policy introduced last year preventing tenancy going to other family members after the agreement holder died.
After an earlier extension, the Dunns were given until yesterday to leave.
The Dunns have questioned whether their mother had been notified of the new policy before she died.
They and their uncle, Charlie Dunn, said that had Mrs Dunn known of it, and with her health deteriorating quickly, she would have applied for one of her caregiver's son's names to be added as a joint tenant.
Charlie Dunn, who with other whanau travelled from north Hokianga yesterday to support his nephews, said his sister would have expected her sons be able to stay in the house.
Yesterday, members of the extended family and the Otangarei community gathered at the Dunn's family home of 25 years in a show of solidarity. Outside the property a fire burned in a drum on which food was being heated, people stood in the rain clutching cups of hot coffee, others streamed down the road to the house at the end of the William Jones Dr cul de sac from nearby houses and streets.
On the front lawn the brothers had erected a tent painted with the words, 'This is our new home'.
Their uncle said it was ridiculous his nephews were being told to leave that particular property but invited to apply for another state house.
He said the housing authority's stance was "anti social and anti-family", and would weaken urban communities. "There are so many issues affecting families out there that society should be working together on. Look at suicide ... suicide and crime really affect our young people badly, and you need strong communities to counteract that," Mr Dunn said.
"Breaking up families and putting long-standing residents out of their homes is not helpful, it is harmful, and here is bureaucracy doing just that."
Housing New Zealand did not respond to questions from The Northern Advocate, yesterday.
A neighbour said the Dunns' supporters were not all state house tenants.
His family had owned their nearby house for 25 years and knew the Dunns well.
He said he was upset the Dunns were being portrayed as "bad guys and gang members" (the Dunns do not belong to a gang) and said their issue with HNZC appeared to have escalated into "a witchhunt against the Dunns".
"They (the Dunns) are good neighbours," the man said. "Within communities there are the smaller neighbourhoods where people watch out for each other and make those places better to live in. The Dunns are a big part of that here."
Another neighbour said he did not support the Dunns' stance and did not believe state houses should be " for life".
He said families such as his had waited years to get a HNZC house, which should be allocated on grounds of greatest need.
* In an article on Saturday about the Dunn family's bid to stay in the house, the Northern Advocate quoted Housing New Zealand spokesperson Angela Pearce as saying the housing authority does take gang affiliations into account when assessing eligibility. The sentence should have read "does not" take gang affiliations into account.