GRAPHIC/WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

Government’s ‘deliberate, place-based approach’ for new public housing plan excludes Wairarapa
MP: Wairarapa’s need for housing is ‘desperate’

GRACE PRIOR
grace.prior@age.co.nz

Wairarapa is out in the cold after the government’s announcement of their public housing plan.

The plan, announced on Thursday, covers 2021 through to 2024, where 8000 additional houses were planned to be built, none of which is in Wairarapa.

Housing Minister Megan Woods said community housing providers, iwi, and Maori housing providers would assist “where Kainga Ora can’t deliver, such as in Masterton where the public housing stock was sold off in 1999, or where a targeted housing approach is preferred.

“Local councils will complement this work and provide delivery in some places – especially where they have land and plans ready to go for new housing,” Woods said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said the government was on track with its delivery of its public housing programme and were targeting areas which had real need.

Trust House, Wairarapa’s community housing provider, has about 150 families on its waitlist, chief executive Charles Kaka has said.

Ardern said the government’s national policy statement would reach its deadline in July, and that it would require more land to be freed up for housing.

“Local councils over decades have consistently underdelivered land for housing,” Ardern said.

“The national policy statement changes, including through intensification, is seeking to match housing with land availability.

“Those requirements for stock take kick in in July.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said in his time as mayor he hadn’t been contacted by government about land for social housing.

He was elected in 2019.

“Central government should tread carefully in deflecting blame to local government for the nation’s housing crisis,” Beijen said.

“Central government have created and enforced strict controls over the process and speed of district plan reviews, which allow for rezoning and the release of land for development.”

He said central government needed to open a “collaborative dialogue” with local government to ensure it could assist its goals while still complying with the laws they have created and enforce.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said the council was not required to monitor housing demand but did anyway as it was a big issue for Masterton.

She said the only parts of New Zealand without a Kainga Ora presence were Wairarapa, Tararua district, and Chatham Islands.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he wanted to research the matter before commenting.

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty said he had met Housing Minister Megan Woods before Thursay’s press conference about housing in Wairarapa.

“She totally understands the unique issues we face and that there will need to be specific solutions. While not specifically mentioned in today’s press conference, Wairarapa is set to benefit from today’s plan,” McAnulty said.

“The minister has agreed to meet with me again within the next, week where I intend to put forward my plan for housing in Wairarapa for her consideration.”

McAnulty has been pushing to bring Kainga Ora back to Wairarapa, after its housing stock was sold off by the National government to Trust House in 1999.

“We are in a unique situation in Wairarapa. What I am interested in doing is getting the houses back,” McAnulty saidr this week.

“We tried in the last three years to get houses that are part of the initial 80 that were funded through developers. That is still happening and will happen shortly, that’s 20 odd houses.

“The length of time that that has taken to happen goes to show that the best way forward is to get Kainga Ora back here.”

McAnulty said there had been much more progress in areas such as central Hawke’s Bay where there was still a Kainga Ora presence, but their need for housing wasn’t as desperate as Wairarapa’s.

McAnulty said he had been trying to get Kainga Ora, an organisation that was “deeply committed and solely focused on building housing stock” to expand into an area where they did not exist.

“That’s going to be a bigger ask than going to Kainga Ora and saying, ‘here’s an area where you already are, here’s the need’.

“They’ve already got the land, they’ve already got the properties, they can knock one down and build three or whatever they need to do to expand the housing block.

“When you’ve already got a presence there, that’s a relatively easy proposition.

“Getting them to come to region where they don’t have a presence is not something that can happen overnight.”

The Opposition

National’s 2020 election candidate for Wairarapa Mike Butterick said it was “ridiculous” that Wairarapa had not been mentioned in the housing plan as it was the top-of-mind issue for constituents.

He said National had planned a $1 billion fund which would have been available for community housing providers to apply to and Trust House would have been eligible for these funds.

“Obviously we’re in opposition, so we don’t get to call the shots. To a degree, we’re a little bit powerless, and this has become a ‘go-round’ conversation.”

National’s housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis said the government’s announcement was “hopelessly underwhelming” and said the government needed to work with community housing providers to address the crisis.

She said this applied particularly to Wairarapa where there was no Kainga Ora presence.

The national social housing waiting list was growing at an alarming rate, she said.

“In the past 12 months alone, another 7900 people put their hand up for a home.

“At this rate, another 32,000 people could be on the waiting list by 2025. That makes today’s announcement a drop in the bucket when it comes to fixing New Zealand’s housing woes,” Willis said.



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