Cyclone can’t stop much-needed Wairoa housing development

By Contributor
Source / NZ Herald

By James Pocock, NZ Herald

Not even a cyclone can stop earthworks for a much-needed Wairoa housing development two years in the making.

Earthworks for the two-hectare, 38-lot Tihitihi Pā subdivision are set to begin on Monday next week, and it is hoped the first homes will be ready for tenants by September.

The site is located between Kitchener St and McLean St, which was across the river from houses affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The residential project is a partnership between Whakamanamana , a charitable trust, housing provider Enabled and two kāhui, Te Wairoa Tapokorau Whānui Trust and Te Hononga o Ngā Awa.

Satellite imagery shows how the Wairoa site that is soon to transform into a 38-lot Tihitihi Pā subdivision was only across the river from the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. Photo / LINZ

A statement from Wairoa District Council said work on the housing development began more than two years ago as a response to Wairoa’s housing needs.

“The development will comprise 10 transitional houses, 20 public houses and seven private market houses,” the statement said.

“Once completed, the 30 transitional and public homes and two-hectare subdivision will be bought by Kāinga Ora. These will be the first new Kāinga Ora homes for Wairoa in many years.”

Kāinga Ora will match the public homes to whānau on the Ministry of Social Development’s Housing Register with the highest priority for a home of that size and in that location.

Tūapapa Kura Kāinga - Ministry of Housing has contracted Enabled Wairoa, which will lease the transitional homes from Kāinga Ora and provide the whānau living in them with wrap-around support.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said the work might be difficult in the aftermath of a disaster like Cyclone Gabrielle, but the necessity of housing made it worthwhile, and it was a great example of how community groups could come together.

“It has been decades since the Wairoa township has had a rollout of new homes. This is an exciting venture for our community, and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product and know this will be transformational for many whānau,” Little said.

Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities acting regional director for the east North Island, Roxanne Cribb, said the urgent need for more housing in Wairoa is well-known and the development was timely after the loss of homes in Cyclone Gabrielle.

(From left): Lawrence Tangaere and Dedrie Hemingway from Kāinga Ora; Enabled chairman and joint owner of Whakamanamana Limited, Mark Oberman; Te Hononga o Ngā Awa kāhui representative Darden King and Wairoa Taiwhenua chairman Nigel How; Te Wairoa Tapokorau Whānui Trust chairwoman Denise Eaglesome-Karekare; Wairoa Mayor Craig Little; and Enabled chief executive Shelley Smith.

Enabled chairman Mark Oberman, who also jointly owns Whakamanamana, said Wairoa’s critical housing demand drove the Tihitihi Pā project forward.

“We know that as of the end of January, 64 whānau were on the Social Housing Register, with most having been on the register for over two years; 15 whānau, comprising 19 adults and 23 children, were living in emergency housing and five whānau, seven adults and 15 children, were living in transitional housing,” Oberman said.

The development will eventually include a community park and playground, barbecue area and maara kai garden and an on-site office for the housing teams from Enabled Social Housing and Enabled Toitu He Kāinga – Wairoa Community Housing Hub.