It started as built-up piles of sand and dirt, spread over nearly three acres. 

Today, it is the foundation for families to build new memories, futures and opportunities.  

This former lifestyle block on Papamoa’s Doncaster Drive has been transformed into an architecturally designed, 41-home development for people most in need. The homes were built by private developer Gemscott and purchased by Kāinga Ora on completion. 

Twenty-two of the homes are for Kāinga Ora social housing customers. The remaining 19 are transitional homes, providing temporary accommodation for people who urgently need a place to stay, alongside tailored support to help them into longer-term housing.   

Gemscott’s Project Manager Tim Jennings has been involved with the project from day one, from the early conception and earthworks stage through to handover of the homes to customers.  

Doncaster Drive development during the earthworks stage.

“The development was delivered in two stages, and it was really special to see some of the first tenants enjoying their new home after they had moved in, with kids playing in the yard and on their bikes,” says Tim. 

The development is a mix of terraced, duplex and stand-alone homes, ranging in size from two to five bedrooms.  

Gemscott worked closely with Kāinga Ora throughout the design and build stage, ensuring the homes met the needs of both the people who will live in them and the community.  

“It’s an immersive process of working through the typologies and site layouts – right down to the locations of electrical sockets,” says Tim. “We understand what Kāinga Ora needs and design to that. 

“We’re proud of the fully accessible units and the open park space we achieved with this particular development.” 

Maree McDonald, Kāinga Ora Senior Housing Support Manager, says the warm, healthy and spacious Papamoa homes have been life-changing for families.

“Some were crying with joy when they moved in, very happy to be out of some difficult past living situations. Families are loving it, they’re starting to come together as a community, and there’s always plenty of children out and about playing together.” 

Gemscott has been delivering homes for Kāinga Ora since 2017. The company is currently building another 200 much-needed social homes throughout the North Island.

“We really treasure the partnership,” says Tim. “We’ve built hundreds of homes for Kāinga Ora and hopefully helped changed the lives of quite a few Kiwis in that time.” 

Caroline McDowall, Kāinga Ora General Manager – Commercial, says supporting more New Zealanders into homes relies on strong partnerships with the private sector.  

“With thousands of homes delivered, we have thousands more to come.  Kāinga Ora is on track to deliver around 4,500 new social homes this financial year. Our industry partners and the private sector play a key role in working alongside us to deliver these homes,” says Caroline. 

“That’s why developer partners like Gemscott are so important. Doncaster Drive is a great example of how we can work together to facilitate positive housing outcomes in areas with high housing need.” 

Handing completed developments to Kāinga Ora ready for customers to move in has a lasting impact, adds Tim.  

“There’s nothing like it. I still remember being at a final inspection for one of the first developments we built for Kāinga Ora, in Mangere.  A family of four, with two kids, drove up. They said it was going to be their new home and were driving past to have a look. Turns out they were living in their car at the time. It’s always stayed with me.”