Well-known animal breeder Lena Duncan is refusing to leave a family-owned dairy farm, allegedly “barricading herself” inside a bach.
Hawke’s Bay dairy farmer Rose Galloway said the situation with Lena Duncan is causing her family “extreme stress”.
“She’s digging her toes in and refusing to go,” Galloway said. “We’ve had to lodge a trespass notice with local police.”
Bulgaria-born Duncan is a horse and dog breeder currently facing charges relating to the alleged ill-treatment of a horse and alleged failures to provide proper and sufficient food to a further 15 horses.
Last year, Duncan had been living on a remote farm in Northland when the SPCA seized around 17 of her horses.
Earlier this month, she appeared in front of a judge at a pre-trial hearing at Whangārei District Court. She represented herself and made a number of allegations, including that she is being harassed by the SPCA. Her case will continue next year.
Galloway and her family run a 550-cow dairy farm in Hawke’s Bay. She said Duncan introduced herself in July as “Dora” and said she was looking for work.
Duncan also goes by the names Dora Ryan and Lara Darky. She’s known as LH Billy on Facebook.
“She expressed how she loved animals, and said she was skilled with big machinery,” said Galloway.
“She was really keen and we like giving people opportunities to gain new skills. We decided to give her a shot as a farm hand.”
The Galloways allowed Duncan to live rent-free in the family bach – a one bedroom, one bathroom portacom on the farm – as part of a service tenancy where an employer provides accommodation for a worker to live in during their employment.
It quickly became obvious, according to Galloway, that Duncan did not have the skills she said she had, but they still continued with her training.
That was until they were informed by Fonterra – the company that buys their milk – that the buying price was being reduced due to worldwide economic challenges.
“This was devastating for us. Financially, it’s a huge blow. We have been in this position before, following the global financial crisis, and at the time we had to reduce the size of our farm,” said Galloway.
“This time round, in order to survive we needed to cut costs again.”
As part of several cost saving measures, Duncan’s position was made redundant on August 20.
The family said Duncan wanted to pay $200 weekly rent so she could continue living in the bach, despite no longer working on the farm.
They agreed but informed her that since they had plans to relocate the property, she needed to vacate it by mid-October. Duncan accepted the terms and signed a contract dated September 12.
However, Galloway said Duncan simply refused to leave when the time came to move the building.
“She told us the contract she signed was ‘blackmail’ so she has a right to stay. She has barricaded herself in with gates across the entrance to the bach.”
Galloway says they gave her extra time but that Duncan’s final day to vacate was Monday October 30. She has since been served a trespass notice.
Duncan has not responded to multiple requests for comment.