Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities is undertaking a major development that’s underway in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill, building around 10,000 new, high quality, healthy homes over the next 10 to 15 years.

The development will also deliver new and improved public facilities, retail, streets and public transport, resulting in a connected, safe, well resourced community for many generations to come.

This process will inevitably cause disruption in the community as it involves replacing old, substandard state houses and temporarily relocating some residents.

HLC was founded in 2006 to develop Hobsonville Point, and went on to lead other major regeneration projects in Auckland on under-utilised government land. The company joined Housing New Zealand and Kiwibuild in October 2019 to form Kāinga Ora. Through other developments at in Auckland, such as Hobsonville Point and Northcote, Kāinga Ora’s Urban Development team has learned the importance of keeping residents informed every step of the way, and also empowering them to have a voice and influence over the future of their community.

This community-led approach to development is also being applied in Mt Roskill.

The first spade was put in the ground at Mt Roskill in April 2018, but HLC had been talking to the community well before then.

“What we’re trying to do here is deliver healthy housing – and an increased supply of it,” says Kāinga Ora Development Manager Lucy Smith.

“What’s important to me is communication and collaboration with everybody who’s involved.”

Beth Noakes, acting principal at May Road Primary School, has been working alongside the team for three years.

“Many of our students will be affected by the development,” she says. “I think the development is absolutely necessary, but it is still difficult for our students who have to move schools.”

Noakes says the school has been using the development to explore the theme of ‘change’ to help the children understand what’s happening in the community.

Pupils have taken part in an Kāinga Ora-led ‘ConstructionPlus’ day to learn about their environment in a fun, interactive way. The school’s mana whenua group also visited the maunga with archaeologist Dr Hans-Dieter Bader, to help them connect with the land.

“They have done an amazing job at looking at the holistic picture of this development,” Noakes says.

Kāinga Ora Community Development and Engagement Coordinator Karla Beazley is working to keep residents informed and listening to any questions and concerns.

Born and bred in a state house in Mt Roskill, Beazley understands the community as well as anyone.

“This is my backyard,” she says. “So my job is to go out into the community to make sure they’ve got the correct information. That involves a lot of cups of tea, lots of cake.”

Beazley says a key driver of this development is keeping the community local. That means having a policy that the people who have to relocate will be allowed to return to live in the new houses. “We want to give local people the opportunity to buy a home here one day.”

An Information Centre has also been opened to provide a place for people to ask questions about the development and learn more about the changes happening in the neighbourhood.

Dr Bader, of Archaeology Solutions, has been working with the community to identify and protect heritage sites and explore ways to bring the history and stories of the area to life.

He says this new approach to development has been “more than just building houses”.

“The fact they want to embrace the community and create community, I think this is crucially important for Auckland because what we’re really missing is that sense of place.”

It’s that sense of place that Kāinga Ora is working to create at Mt Roskill.