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On the property ladder: Kainga Ora’s Wairarapa land grab

The site of Greytown’s possible state housing. PHOTO/GEORGE SHIERS

After more than two decades, state housing once again owns land in Wairarapa.

Kainga Ora confirmed it had bought land in Greytown, where it was exploring the possibility of social housing development.

The housing provider said the old ambulance station at 183-189 East St was chosen due to its close proximity to both Masterton and Wellington.

A letter sent to neighbouring residents from Kainga Ora said it was in the early stages of exploring options for the site, signalling the potential for future social housing development.

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty said he had been campaigning on the issue since he was elected.

“It’d mean that much. If you can’t house people, it just makes life so much harder for them, and it relieves pressure on the rental market.

“Businesses have been struggling to bring workers in because there is no accommodation. It will help elderly people living in a big three-bedroom house who want to downsize. It will really relieve the housing market.”

McAnulty said he was emotional to see this first step taken.

“If we get this across the line, I’ll be absolutely stoked.

“I’ve been pushing so hard for this, it’s been top of the list. If we get this done, it will be so significant and a personal highlight for me – I’ve had to fight so hard.”

Kainga Ora greater Wellington region director Greg Groufsky said it was important to emphasise that it was still “early days” for the development.

“Kainga Ora has recently purchased a site, formerly used as an ambulance station, to help provide much-needed, warmer, drier, public housing in Wairarapa.

“As we have only recently purchased the East St site, plans are still in very early stages. We are currently carrying out a range of site investigations to help inform the exact number of homes and their potential typology.

“As a first step, to ensure neighbours are kept informed, we provided them with a letter which includes a dedicated Kainga Ora person to contact if they have any questions.”

Groufsky said community engagement would continue throughout the process.

“We work closely with communities on new developments, as we want to make sure the homes we are delivering work well for the people and families in need who will live here, as well as the wider community.

“When it comes to community engagement, we tailor our approach to each development and encourage anyone who is interested in the development to reach out to our stakeholder team so they can receive updates when they become available.

“We’re committed to working with the community as plans progress for the East St site. Letting neighbours know about the purchase of the site is just the start of this engagement.” He said the usual process when looking at redevelopments was to have early engagement with the local community and allow the chance for feedback.

Groufsky said there were 24 applicants on the waitlist for public housing in South Wairarapa. McAnulty said the list was small as people did not apply for housing that did not exist.

Kainga Ora had not been present in Wairarapa since the Government sold the region’s state houses in 1999. As a result, Wairarapa and Tararua had been the only two regions in New Zealand without any state housing.

A formal announcement including more details about Kainga Ora’s possible expansion into Wairarapa was expected next week.

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