The effects of living in a former P-lab

A family of six, including a baby, are coming to terms with health issues they say they have accrued from three years of unknowingly living in a Tauranga house used to manufacture methamphetamine.

The Pauls moved out after Methsafe inspected the property in early January and found it was still heavily contaminated from more than three years ago, when former tenants were arrested on drugs charges.

Police raided the James Cook Drive property in November 2012, suspecting a meth lab was operating there.

In a media statement, Police say swabs were taken but results weren’t returned to them from Institute of Environmental Science and Research until July 2013.

Because of the delay, the information wasn’t passed to property owner David McQuoid or Tauranga City Council.

Ngere and her husband Ryan, Ngere’s father Tai and three children including the baby girl, who was born while the family was living in the house, are all suffering from health issues, says Ngere.

The now one-year-old was recently in hospital with a severe skin rash across her back, which doctors are unsure how to treat.

The baby used to lie on the contaminated flooring of the house.

“The whole time we were there we had skin rashes, breathing problems, but our baby - who was born at the house - and my dad were the ones we were really concerned about.

“That’s why we did the meth test,” says Ngere.

“Our baby, one of her rashes just turned into blisters and spread really quickly all over her back and up her neck. We ended up going to doctors and to A&E in Rotorua.

“They were saying it could be chicken pox, it could be shingles. ‘We don’t know what it is go and see your GP’.

The antibiotic didn’t work, and doctors at Tauranga Hospital also didn’t know how to treat her, says Ngere. “It’s spread that bad and it’s eaten away at her skin.”

The 11-month-old’s back from lying on the flooring of the former P lab.

“What’s frustrating me is every time we talked to a doctor, or even a nurse prior to coming into Tauranga Hospital their reaction, is ‘Oh we are really sorry to hear that you have been through that, but we can’t really be certain if this is from that’.

“It looks like the whole attitude towards it has been really blasé. People don’t know what it is. Everything in my gut and my husband’s gut is, it is that house. Five doctors have never seen anything like it. They are told it might be a rare form of eczema,” says Ngere.

“We know eczema. Our four-year-old has suffered back eczema since she was six-months-old. We know what eczema looks like and this is not it.”

She says they had Methsafe test the house after repeated requests to their landlord David McQuoid failed.

David says the first indication he had of the house’s toxicity is when Methsafe conducted tests in January 2016 at the tenants’ request, and they were positive.

“Methsafe rang up to say ‘We have done a test on your property – and it came up positive’.”

Police told him previous tenants were arrested as a result of the 2012 raid, and they said there was drugs, but he didn’t hear anything else, says David.

“And we found out a week ago that police did do a test but their administration team failed to let us know the response of the test,” says David. “We found that out, it was the beginning of February or end of January this year.”

Ngere says David did know about the house’s P-lab history because she confronted him about it upon signing the lease. When she asked him if the house had been professionally decontaminated, he said it had been.

Methsafe director Jess Hall says David was told by police the P-lab was in the house when they raided the property in 2012.

The law is landlords are obliged to provide a clean property to tenants. If landlords rent out a property that is contaminated by ‘P’, they are breaching their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, as well as other legislation such as the Building Act and the Health Act.

“The tenant called me because she asked the owner to get it tested because her family was getting sick,” says Jess.

“All the health problems she (Ngere) pushed aside, because she thought it had been cleaned,” says Jess.

Doctors believe the ongoing health issues with the young family is a mystery virus. After three years the tenants paid for the testing themselves, which is not a cheap process.

“It had never been cleaned,” says Jess. “I did have that conversation with the owner that Ngere was under the impression that it had been professionally cleaned.”

Jess says the house is now condemned, and the family have lost all their possessions which after three years are also contaminated.

The James Cook Drive house is the highest level of contamination the insurance company has seen, says Jess.

“That’s because the house was left uncleaned for about four years. In those four years, it (the contamination) spread throughout the house.

“When you go through the list of what you experience from a meth lab, they have got everything ticked.”

Jess maintains the responsibility remains with the property owner, as he is required by law to rent a healthy building.

“There’s no excuses even, if the council didn’t tell him,” says Jess.

While police didn’t pass on the information to the council, it’s not a legally required process. It’s not included in the bylaw, says Jess.

The Welcome Bay property first became the subject of police interest in 2012, when it was suspected that methamphetamine was being manufactured there, says a statement from Police National Headquarters.

A subsequent search warrant executed in November 2012 resulted in swabs being sent for ESR analysis, with results coming back in July 2013 confirming that was the case.

A joint investigation by the New Zealand Police Clan Lab Response Team and Tauranga Police subsequently resulted in a number of people being charged and prosecuted for various drug offences.

Those involved in the offending have no connection to the current tenants or owners of the property.

Though not a legal requirement, Detective Senior Sergeant John Brunton, manager of national clan lab response, says once the ESR analysis had confirmed the property had been used as the site of methamphetamine manufacture, the City Council and property owner should have been formally notified as a courtesy of its status in the interests of health and safety.

“Unfortunately, due to the length of time between the property first being assessed and then finally being confirmed as being used for meth manufacture, the normal notifications that should take place as a courtesy to the owner and local council were overlooked by police. We have since written to all parties and have apologised for our error.

“We are focused on making sure our administrative processes are more robust in future to ensure that this does not reoccur,” says John.

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Who is responsible?

Posted on 12-03-2016 20:10 | By GreertonBoy

The criminals that made this cr@p in a house they rented from an unsuspecting landlord, that’s who. I’m not a landlord and never will be, but if people dont start showing a little bit of respect to landlords, there wont be any... then what will people rent? It works both ways... landlords should respect tennants and tennants should respect landlords... and everyone should respect the law (including the thugs and the police). I am sure the landlord wouldn’t have leased a property if he thought/knew it was a risk? Not all landlords are fat rich people with big cigars and $100 notes hanging out of thier pockets... some are just Ma&Pa with an extra house, or someone dabbling with rental properties. I reckon for every ’horror story’ of a tennant being stomped on by a ’terrible landlord’, there are 10 landlords being disrespected by suss tennants. get real


Posted on 09-03-2016 01:34 | By GreertonBoy

Is it beyond doubt that any health issues are caused solely by the house? Maybe it is just an alergy to something in the general environment? Luckily the days of lynching are gone... otherwise the poor landlord would probably be strung up... and it may not even be his fault. While I sympathise with the family, I wonder why they chose to move into a former meth production house, whether it had been cleaned/decontaminated or not.... and I also wonder what the actual contamination is? In reality, if the son has had ’back eczema’ previously, maybe it is a genetic thing this time showing in a different form? I sure hope the little one comes good and they can find the exact cause of the rash.... but I hope people lay off landlord, before there are no landlords prepared to rent houses to anyone. I sure wouldn’t want to

Pretty simple, really.

Posted on 08-03-2016 12:29 | By morepork

If the Landlord knew and did nothing, he must reimburse the family for the loss of their possessions. He should then pursue the original criminals for reimbursement of his loss. If the Landlord really did not know, and given he was not informed by Police, then the Police are morally (even if not legally) responsible.(They have moved to do better in the future) This is a tragedy for the family and they need some recompense for their physical losses (never mind the mental distress). Insurance? It is awful to see a little one suffering like that and the stress it puts on the parents. I’d try Aloe Vera on the skin and large doses of Vitamin C (2000 mg) maybe taken as a drink for the baby. It may not cure her but it might, and it certainly won’t do any harm. Antibiotics don’t work with viruses.


Posted on 08-03-2016 09:38 | By rosscoo

The Landlord suppose to insure houses are cleaned prior to re letting. Obviously Landlord should inspect property with at least one of new tenants to make sure everyone satisfied prior to moving in.

Landlords bewere

Posted on 07-03-2016 16:48 | By The umpire

The landlord knew and did nothing, this makes him responsible for the tenant and there belongings and their health problems, some of the landlords only want a $ return and never visit or check their property’s, get it in writing and do your own test before you rent from these types of landlords.

Make P Lab Criminals accountable

Posted on 07-03-2016 15:12 | By BullShtAlert

A lot of talk about who is responsible. The real criminals here are the lowlife scum who manufactured P.

Landlord responsible

Posted on 07-03-2016 13:59 | By Kadesmum

I so feel for this beautiful family. The landlord would of known at the time of the raid that it was a P Lab and should of taken all the necessary steps to ensure the house was professionaly cleaned before re renting it. This poor family has suffered ill health and have lost all the processions. He lied to them and said it had been done.

Who is responsible

Posted on 07-03-2016 13:20 | By Kenworthlogger

Who is resposible for replacing this poor landlords house? Is it the police for not informing the landlord or the council? They are out a lot of money for having to replace a whole house. Someone needs to be accountable

Let's not brush over this

Posted on 07-03-2016 13:01 | By NancyD

This is really serious and shouldn’t be brushed over. A lot of people are living in conditions similar and the landlords are not doing anything. Whose responsibility is it? The landlords and the Police. If the police knew of the arrest and the reason why shouldn’t this be told the landlord/agent who can then take the necessary precaution/steps to make sure it doesn’t affect the next tenant? That poor family and yes they should be reimbursed. Unfortunately the health care system, even in NZ isn’t as it should be and a rash like should undergo through testing or at least the Dr’s working with the family to figure out why it’s happening. I"m so sorry to this family that you had to go through that with such little support. The human body is very resilient and now you’re all away from such toxin I’m sure you find health.


Posted on 07-03-2016 11:57 | By overit

This is a very shocking story and I feel for this family. Its unbelievable.

who is responsable

Posted on 07-03-2016 10:57 | By sharon69nz

who is resposnable for replacing this poor families possessions is it the police for not informing the landlord or the council. they are out a lot of money having to replace clothing, bedding,furniture and all the health cost associated. someone needs to be accountable

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