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Kia ora to Kainga Ora

Kieran McAnulty and Megan Woods announced Kainga Ora’s return to Wairarapa in Masterton on Monday. PHOTO/GEORGE SHIERS

Kainga Ora homes making a return to Wairarapa
Social housing provider returns to region with 52 houses planned in Masterton and more to come, reports GEORGE SHIERS.

More than 50 new homes will soon be available to those who need them most as the Labour Government delivers on bringing Kainga Ora back to the region.

It marks the first time state housing has been available in Wairarapa in more than two decades on what Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty called a “significant day” for New Zealand.

McAnulty and Housing Minister Megan Woods announced details of the new homes at the Iorns St North development in Masterton on Monday.

“Our plan is to create more public housing for Wairarapa and Tararua to meet growing demand,” Woods said.

“To date, we have purchased two sites, one in Greytown and one in Woodville, and we have signed contracts with Jennian Homes and Westwood Property to acquire homes in Masterton.

“And I have to underscore what these acquisitions mean. It means an end to the government being MIA in this region for 20 years.”

Woods said that the development would initially mean there would be 30 new state houses in Masterton, 14 at developments in Greytown and Woodville, and a further 22 houses built in partnership with Emerge Housing.

The first 18 Kainga Ora homes would be ready by mid-2023.

“It’s massive for this region, it’s massive for this area, and it’s massive for the people calling this area home.”

Houses would range from one to three bedrooms and Woods said it would begin to address the region’s public housing waitlist, which was at about 260 people.

When asked why the government was bringing Kainga Ora to the region and not increasing its involvement with community housing providers already present, McAnulty said it was about forming partnerships to bring the best possible housing outcomes.

“The key thing here is that Wairarapa and the Tararua district were the only regions in the country that didn’t have a government presence in terms of social housing.

“Community housing providers were doing the best they could but we were being left behind. We were seeing smaller regions with less need getting Kainga Ora houses and we weren’t because they weren’t here, so the big challenge was to convince Kainga Ora to come to a region where they didn’t already have a presence.

“It really is a significant day to be able to say that now every region in the country has a Kainga Ora presence.”

Trust House chief executive officer Charles Kaka said although there was no formal partnership yet in place, he expected to see something soon, and said the result was built on the back of conversations with Kainga Ora in the past 18 months.

The region’s mayors were happy to see Kainga Ora on the way after many months of working to make it happen. Tararua mayor Tracey Collis said the announcement had been a long time coming.

“This is a very exciting day for all of the Wairarapa electorate, I know how passionate the mayors have been in getting this going.

“It puts a footprint in the region and in Tararua and demonstrates that they are listening and looking to increase housing numbers.”

Collis said there had been an “invisible need” in the community.

“Nobody put their name on the state housing register because what was the point, there was no housing.

“This provides some relief and hope for further developments.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said it was very encouraging that the region was being taken seriously when it came to housing.

“There’s been a real social housing need in South Wairarapa. We’ve had 20 years of being absent and relying on third-party providers.”

“The crucial thing is to see more roofs built to address our needs. We don’t want to become a region of baches and retirement homes.”

How to get into state housing

To apply for public housing, people must apply through Work and Income and meet certain criteria:

  • Must be 16 or older.
  • Must meet one of the residency criteria, such as being a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, be getting a main benefit, or be a refugee or a protected person.
  • Must have a serious housing need. Work and Income will look at things such as the physical condition of the applicant’s current home and how crowded it is.
  • Generally, an applicant would need income under $694.41 a week [after tax] if single with no children or $1068.22 a week [after tax] if with a partner or children, and cash assets worth less than $42,700.

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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