State house redevelopment protests criticised

SIMON DAY
Last updated 14:09 12/10/2012
ActioNZMedia

Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira has been arrested in a protest over the removal of state houses in Glen Innes, Auckland.

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Housing New Zealand (HNZ) has hit out at protesters opposing state house redevelopment in Glen Innes, saying its tenants are feeling pressured to take part in protest action.

MP Hone Harawira was arrested during a protest last night in the Auckland suburb and was charged with failure to remove a vehicle. He said police smashed a window in his car during the incident.

Today HNZ general manager asset development Sean Bignell said HNZ believed activity by protesters was intimidating residents and its tenants.

"Since the project was announced, we have been receiving regular calls from affected tenants to say they are feeling pressured to participate in protest action, which has been largely organised and run by people who are not impacted by the redevelopment," he said.

"They are deliberately providing misinformation to families, which is causing unnecessary stress."

Harawira, leader of the Mana Party and MP for Te Tai Tokerau, said he parked over the driveway of a state house being removed from Glen Innes around 11.30pm.

"I parked my car in front of a truck and shone my light up high on the woman on the roof," Harawira said.

"I stayed in my car. They broke into my car and smashed at least one window and arrested me."

Harawira, who attended the protest with his wife, said he was not there to cause trouble but to show support for the Glen Innes community.

"Removing state houses is not part of intelligent policy," he said.

"It is an ugly policy."

But HNZ's Bignell said the project would make Glen Innes a safer and better area to live. It would create more homes as well as warmer and drier state homes.

HNZ had expensive state houses on big sections in Glen Innes, which was close to the city centre. It needed to use that land wisely to help deal with a growing housing shortage in Auckland.

Large suburbs of state housing did not work, and HNZ was committed to taking a different approach to redeveloping areas where state housing was concentrated.

The Glen Innes project aimed to redevelop 156 properties to create at least 260 new houses. Of those 78 would be owned by HNZ, at least 39 would be market-based affordable houses, and the remainder would be for private sale. Another 40 state houses were being modernised in Glen Innes, with exterior upgrades to another 276 state rental houses.

HNZ had been keeping in regular contact with affected families, 70 of whom had chosen to transfer to other state homes early. All 70 families had transferred to homes in locations of their choice, Bignell said.

Forty-six households had been relocated within the area of Glen Innes, Panmure and Mt Wellington, while 21 had moved to the wider Auckland area, three households moved into private sector rental properties, and one relocated to Wellington

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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