Civil defence assessments indicate that very few of Kāinga Ora’s 1320 state homes in Tairāwhiti have been affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

“While the storm has been devastating for so many in our community, generally people living in our homes have been spared,” says East North Island Regional Director Naomi Whitewood.

This bodes well for the progress that is being made to address the urgent need for public housing in Tairāwhiti.

“There are still far too many of our people living in cars, motels, overcrowded homes and other unsuitable accommodation and it is likely the cyclone will have exacerbated this.”

As at 31 December 2022 there were 568 whānau on the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) housing waiting list.

“Everyone wants their mokopuna to grow and develop in a warm, dry, secure home and that is why so many organisations in Tairāwhiti are working at pace to address the housing need,” Naomi says

Kāinga Ora is just one of 16 partner organisations to Te Tairāwhiti Regional Housing Strategy that was finalised in June last year.  “Many of the things we are working on at Kāinga Ora, including increasing home ownership for Māori and supporting local business to build capacity and capability, align with the goals of the strategy.”

“My focus, and that of my team, is to reduce the number of mokopuna living in temporary accommodation and to support our customers to live well in our homes. Kāinga Ora provides more than just a roof over someone’s head. Our whole way of working is set up to help make sure our customers have the right home and support to live comfortably in their homes and communities.”

Naomi says in the last year we have boosted our customer-facing teams to provide a greater level of service and address the specific needs of each whānau. “For people who need more support, we have partnered with both Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou (TRONPnui) and Te Runanganui o Tūranganui a Kiwa (TROTAK). They are contracted to provide more in-depth wrap around support to whānau as an alternative to Kāinga Ora.”

Last year Gisborne got $4.2 million from the Kāinga Ora administered Infrastructure Acceleration Fund to build infrastructure for new housing developments. It will be used in the Taruheru catchment area for key water supply, stormwater and roading upgrades. It is estimated that these upgrades will enable over 450 new public, affordable and market homes, including the Toitū Tairāwhiti site for mana whenua housing.

The new homes in Tyndall Road were blessed by Tohunga Morehu Pewhairangi, pictured right

“Increasing the number of warm, dry homes is a priority. In the last 18 months Kāinga Ora has delivered 54 new public homes in Tairāwhiti.”

The new homes are a combination of replacing the oldest state homes on larger sections with an increased number of quality homes, and purchasing newly built homes (that meet our specifications) off developers.

In the last 12 months Kāinga Ora has redeveloped homes in Tyndall Road, London Street, Dennis Street, and Oxford Street in Kaiti and in Munro Street, Elgin. More homes have been purchased off developers in Stout Street, Childers Road, Palmerston Road and Coldstream Road.

“More new public homes are on their way soon,” says Naomi.

Five new homes in Stout Street are complete and the 14 homes under construction in Manuka Street, Elgin are due to be completed by the middle of the year. Construction on one of the larger developments (22 homes) near the corner of Gladstone Road and Mill Road, is due to start next month.

In Stout Street, Kāinga Ora has an agreement to purchase six homes that are nearly complete. We also have a contract to purchase the 31 homes in Worsley Street, Tamarau that are under construction now.

Naomi says we are also looking at redeveloping a range of other Kāinga Ora sites throughout the city and purchasing more newly built homes. “Plans for most of these are at an early stage and we will be asking the communities affected for feedback on our proposals. Community drop-in sessions were held last year in Tamarau and Te Hapara and the feedback gathered has informed our planning.  Another drop in session will be held in the next couple of months on proposed developments in Kaiti.”

Kāinga Ora is constantly looking for innovative ways to deliver more quality homes, faster and with the best possible outcomes for people, communities, and the construction industry. “We are actively looking at Off-Site Manufacturing techniques which involve the construction of buildings and components of buildings offsite in a factory, and then transported to the sites where they are needed. This could be a good solution particularly for rural communities.”

“We also have partnerships with a range of trade academies that are building homes while training the next generation of tradies. Gisborne has benefitted from homes built at the Springhill Prison and the Unitec Trade Academies and then trucked overnight to Gisborne. More trade academy homes are on their way from Massey High School and Gisborne’s own Iconic Group Trade Academy based at Gisborne Airport. We are currently working with MSD and the Ministry of Education to support the development of other trade academies based in Tairāwhiti. Alongside MSD we are supporting more Tairāwhiti people into fulfilling trade careers through trades training programmes and by working with build contractors that include training people as part of their business model.”

“Altogether we estimate that Kāinga Ora will deliver another 150 – 200 Tairāwhiti public homes in the next two years.”

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Page updated: 8 March 2023