A patch of dirt for a haven

Heidi Moller and house cat Whizz. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

They've got the animals, the people, willing sponsors, the will and the way.

The only thing they're missing is the land.

High Hopes Haven Rehabilitation and Educational Centre is a not-for-profit organisation where abused and abandoned animals can come for recovery and rehabilitation in a safe, secure and loving environment.

The haven takes abused animals, rehabilitates and finds forever loving homes for them. Those animals that have the nature and characteristics for helping others join the HHH Trust Animal-Assisted Therapy Programme to help rehabilitate abused children and people with PTSD and other stress-related issues.

But High Hopes Haven can't start helping until it finds a patch of earth to call its own.

The centre is the dream of Bay local Heidi Moller who has a long history in both animal and human care.

“I had veterinary experience for 11-and-a-half years. I knew from when I was a teenager what I wanted to do. So basically it's been 30 years in the making, this idea that I've had, and I knew I needed experience and the knowledge to be able to make this work, not to rush into something without the experience and the knowledge.”

She's been a veterinary receptionist, vet nurse, animal photographer, a manager at Cheetah Outreach in South Africa, a paramedic in South Africa, an equine manager, and now she works as the practice manager at Skinspots in Tauranga.

But Heidi says that will all change once she gets High Hopes Haven off the ground – or rather, on the ground.

She's on the lookout for a prime piece of land to start her haven. She's got just about everything else she needs except the patch.

Trustee John O'Brien says two hectares are needed for the facility itself. “There are a lot of people that are prepared to and want to donate, but we don't want to look at that or start talking to anyone for sponsorship until we have a piece of dirt.”

“Even a short-term or a low-cost lease to begin with would be good. Or six months rent-free and then go into it because we can't get sponsors until we get some land. Once we have got the land we can go to council and get resource consent and that sort of thing.”

The plan is to have animals of all types at High Hopes Haven – from cats and dogs to horses and birds.

And the programme isn't just restricted to helping abused children – John says it can benefit a range of people from different walks of life.

“Rest homes can bring a party of residents to see the animals as well. Most of those villages don't allow animals, or if they do there's only very few, but we'd be able to provide an opportunity to be with horses, dogs, cats – whatever it's going to be – rather than having to take them off to a zoo.

“Children who are in cancer wards could benefit too; we can take some animals down there or they can be brought to us.

“That's where we see the connection,” says John. “Not just the abused animals, but the abused animals working with adults and children who could benefit.”

“That's our vision,” says Heidi, “the abused animals working with people – whether they're disabled, abused, whatever.”

Heidi says they're stuck in a bit of a catch-22; they can't get sponsorship approval without land, but they can't purchase land without sponsorship approval. The first step, says Heidi, is finding appropriate potential land space.

If you have a piece of land, know of any that might be suitable, or can help in any way contact Heidi on 021 078 2279.

For more information visit www.hhhtrust.nz

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