The legend flickers and fades

Good riddance - Caldina exits the cul-de-sac. Photo: Sharnae Hope

CKY579 - RIP.

It was a sad, ignominious end. Caldina has gone, without ceremony, to the knacker’s yard. No-one could, or would, pay the auto-electrician the $400 necessary to bring her back, so they turned off life support, and signed the death certificate. They de-registered her.

She’s now waiting to be dismantled, or crushed, or both.

Caldina’s story featured in last week’s Weekend Sun. “That’s my car! That’s my car!” exclaimed homeless man Rodney when he read the paper. Rodney had been gifted Caldina by a French tourist who was leaving the country.

Then things went haywire – for everyone concerned. It’s a story just as much about the sociological complexities of homelessness as it is about an abandoned car.

Caldina’s name means achiever, peacemaker and attractive. But Caldina failed spectacularly on all counts. Success eluded this achiever – she ended up forsaken on the berm in a cul-de-sac at the bottom of The Strand.

As a peacemaker she caused a right old stink between the bylaw enforcers and neighbours who wanted her gone, out of their lives. And attractive? She had become a broken-down repository for a homeless person’s junk. And she stank unforgivably, ponged worse than school socks.

Anyhow, how did Rodney, a homeless man, become Caldina’s keeper? Rodney lived in the cul-de-sac, subsisted in the cul-de-sac, in a little blue tent under the trees, right beside railway line.

It’s unclear how things transpired but it seems the Frenchman, wanting a quick and easy exit from New Zealand, flicked his car keys to Rodney. The Frenchman had had his use of the car and it wasn’t worth the trouble of selling.

The car sat in the cul-de-sac for a couple of months and became a bunkhouse for Rodney during June’s storms. Then another homeless guy raids Rodney’s tent – his stuff is nicked, and with it, his car keys.

Here the story becomes even murkier and the timelines obscure. But Rodney ends up in ‘Whaka’ – he had been living in a caravan.

Enter Wayne. Wayne’s a local. He found Rodney on the side of the road after the homeless man had been displaced from his caravan and the property on which the caravan was parked. The homeless are homeless again.

Wayne took him in, offered him shelter until he could get Rodney, “a man with health issues”, on an even keel. Wayne tried to work his way through the social agencies to assist Rodney.

“WINZ have been wonderful, but the people of Tauranga don’t understand homelessness,” he says. “They’re not even half aware of the problems they face.” Rodney doesn’t have photo ID and Wayne says that simply sends you, exasperatingly, around in ever decreasing circles. He was starting to regret getting involved.

Wayne then visited the cul-de-sac to retrieve Caldina. He throws $150 at a lock smith to get a key for the keyless car. “I just want to remove a problem for everyone,” he says, “for the council, for the neighbours, for Rodney, for everyone really.”

But Caldina is sulking. She won’t start. So Wayne brings in the cavalry - and a tow rope. After nearly two-and-a-half months Caldina vacates the cul-de-sac. She is towed out to an auto-electrician who thinks $400 should bring her back to life. But enough. Caldina’s not even worth $400. She is given her last rites and delivered to a car wrecker’s yard.