New life for defence force home

PILOT HOUSE: Ngati Whatua Nga Rima o Kaipara Trust housing project leader Kiri Powell in front of the retrofitted Helensville home.
PILOT HOUSE: Ngati Whatua Nga Rima o Kaipara Trust housing project leader Kiri Powell in front of the retrofitted Helensville home.

The first stage of a project to help Ngati Whatua whanau in South Kaipara plan for their own affordable, healthy and quality homes is now a reality.

Families and interested people have been visiting the first pilot house in Helensville which has been retrofitted thanks to Nga Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara's vision for Maori land or papakainga.

It is one of two former Hobsonville defence force homes which were relocated to Awaroa Rd by Ngati Whatua Nga Rima o Kaipara Trust as templates for future housing schemes.

Trust housing project leader Kiri Powell has been showing people around the basic three-bedroom house which costs about $127,000 for its relocation and retrofit.

Features include insulation, thermal-lined curtains and varnished floors.

"The feedback has been positive so far and people have been happy with the standard of the house and the information provided including a breakdown of costs," Powell says.

"Whanau are seeing the house and realising it's a realistic, achievable and tangible goal."

Many tradespeople in the district worked to complete the house for the project's timeline, while the other pilot house is used as an example of "the before" stage.

The houses are located on Ngati Whatua land leased to the Ministry of Education on part of Kaipara College grounds.

"The idea of this house is that it's the first of many to come. It's to make sure we keep working towards getting whanau into warm, dry and healthy homes. That they're affordable to buy, to maintain and to be able to keep up with the living costs associated with them," Powell says.

The idea is to spread houses - new-builds, upgraded existing housing or relocatable homes - across multiple-owned land, including the five marae represented by the trust - Araparera, Haranui, Kakanui, Puatahi and Reweti.

The next step is to deliver more papakainga workshops to help families through identifying the process, challenges and associated costs.

"The biggest challenge is sorting out the land - even more than the funding," Powell says.

Workshops will cover consents, research, technical expertise, funding and housing options.

The trust's housing strategy also includes providing skills training and employment opportunities.

Rodney Local Board chairwoman Brenda Steele, who attended the celebration opening, says the board is proud to support the project.

"Warm, healthy homes for families is always spoken about in the political world, but at a local level not much support is given. That is not the case with the Rodney Local Board," she says.

"The spin-offs are massive from this pilot house project if well supported. It attracts people for local jobs, learning trades, recycling materials, all by retrofitting affordable houses for families to buy. It's an awesome opportunity for Ngati Whatua, and Helensville and Parakai as a whole."

Norwest News