Don't make same mistakes, say Pomare residents

Pomare health worker Dina Awarau addresses the Social Services select committee.
Pomare health worker Dina Awarau addresses the Social Services select committee.

Pomare residents who have watched 88 state houses get stripped from their community have told Parliament they do not want to see the same ''mistakes'' repeated in other parts of the country.

Members of the Lower Hutt suburb addressed the Social Services Select Committee today in support of tenants from Napier's Maraenui and Auckland's Glen Innes housing communities who are also in the throes of the Government's ''urban renewal'' programmes.

State houses in the three communities have been demolished and tenants evicted as part of plans that Housing New Zealand says will create more sustainable, mixed communities of social and private housing.

Over the past few years, 88 Housing NZ homes have been demolished on Farmer Cres in Pomare, which has a notorious reputation after a string of gang-related violence.

Housing NZ will only own 20 per cent of the new low-cost homes that will eventually be built there them, which has prompted fears that displaced residents will not be able to move back.

Community health worker Dina Awarau told the select committee that the Farmer Cres consultation process had been ''a bunch of lies.''

''Housing NZ didn't tell us the full story ... our community got demolished. There's nothing there now.''

Fellow resident Iris Pahau asked the committee to review the Pomare programme and look at how the community had been affected financially, socially and in terms of health.

Maraenui resident Annabel Brown said her community supported the programme's aims but felt the process was moving too slow.

There were 104 vacant houses in Maraenui as of last month, which were being vandalised and attracting criminals, she said.

''This policy ... is creating criminals out of our children,'' she said. ''Maraenui has been changed from a vibrant community into a run-down ghetto.''

Fellow resident Michelle Ratima, who now lives in a 3-bedroom house with 10 others, said her situation was becoming common for people from Maraenui.

''This is not acceptable but this is a way of life for many residents because they cannot access private rentals of Housing NZ homes because of changing criteria."

Glen Innes resident Yvonne Danity said she wanted the removal of 156 properties from her community halted because Housing NZ had not followed due process with its public consultation.

Glen Innes north was never meant to be part of the Tamaki urban renewal programme and residents were also told back in 2008 that there would be no reduction in state houses, she said.

Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said after the hearing that a moratorium on housing removals was appropriate and he would be calling for an inquiry into the renewal projects.

''It's clear that the Government has botched these three projects,'' he said.

Contact Michael Forbes
Transport and metro reporter
Twitter: @michael_forbes

The Dominion Post