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State houses open doors

The first new state housing built in Wairarapa in the 21st Century was opened at a ceremony in Masterton yesterday, and plans were announced for new state houses in Featherston.

Housing Minister Megan Woods officially opened the 18-home Iorns St North development in East Masterton yesterday morning, with tenants due to move in over the coming weeks.

Woods also announced that Kāinga Ora Housing New Zealand is working with a developer to build 11 state houses on Fitzherbert St in Featherston.

The Featherston houses will join the Kāinga Ora development pipeline alongside projects for three houses on George St in Masterton [due for completion next year], four houses in East St, Greytown [due in late 2024 or early 2025], and a development in Woodville still in the planning stage.

Of the 18 houses opened yesterday, there were a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom houses built by Jennian Homes Wairarapa.

Woods said opening new state homes for the first time since the existing stock was sold to Trust House in 1999 was a significant milestone for Wairarapa and the Labour Party.

A ceremony was held for the first new state housing built in Wairarapa in two decades.
From left; Ron Mark, Gary Caffell, Gareth Norris, Megan Woods, and far right Tracey Collis. PHOTO/FLYNN NICHOLLS

“Embedded within the DNA of the Labour Party is an unwavering belief and commitment to the role of the government in housing,” she said.

“The market simply does not deliver for the most vulnerable, and for nearly 90 years, there’s been an acceptance that the public provision of housing is needed for members of our communities.”

Funding for 3000 new state houses was announced in Budget 2023 – and Woods said provincial New Zealand will be prioritised when deciding where those houses go.

The location of the 3000 new state homes will be announced in September.

Masterton mayor Gary Caffell said there is a strong demand for state housing in the district.

“It’s one of the sad facts of human life that there will always be those among us who, often through no fault of their own, struggle to make ends meet and find it difficult to permanently put a roof over their heads for themselves and for their whānau [family].

“We’ve been fortunate that Trust House have been, and still are, wonderful providers in the social housing area. And I truly commend them for that,” Caffell said.

“But they can only do so much, of course, and to have Kāinga Ora back in that space is something really special.”

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty could not attend the ceremony, but Woods and Caffell both acknowledged him as a long-time supporter, advocate, and campaigner for returning state houses to Wairarapa.

Last week Kāinga Ora Wellington regional director for homes and communities Vicki McLaren said the agency has contacted 17 people from the Ministry of Social Development’s housing registrar about the Iorns St North development.

“Our conversations with whānau who will live in these new homes are well underway,” McLaren said.

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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