Northland a region full of opportunity

By Lynette Amoroa

Whānau in Northland are set to benefit from a new housing initiative and are looking forward to the opportunity to trial an affordable rent-to-own home project which will assist low-income whānau.  

The announcement is part of the government's spending plans for the $46 million Northland regional economic development package.

Prime Minister Jacinda Adern received a warm welcome from low decile Te Kura o Ōtangarei alongside Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, Housing and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, Maori Economic Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Employment Minister Willie Jackson, after announcing their plans for the region.

Adern warmly acknowledged the Northland community who attended the pōhiri,  "We are here not because there's a problem, we are here because there's an opportunity.  And that we need to start fulfilling our responsibility to you to help deliver potential opportunities from this region."

There's $20 million for projects that create jobs; $9.9 million to support a cultural and tourism attraction (with $6.9m for the Hundertwasser Arts Centre); $8.7 million in social and state housing projects; $6.2 million for transport business cases and $500,000 to investigate rail opportunities in Northland.

Rental shortage and homelessness has been one of the major problems in the north and the new transitional homes in Ōtangarei will bring some relief to some families.

The new Ōtangarei Papakāinga Ltd (OPL) development will provide transitional homes for up to 16 Northland families a year, while they receive support to secure a longer-term place to live and rebuild their futures," Mahuta said.

She sees the beauty of the initiative because it is community driven. 

Mahuta also announced an innovative trial that will be brought to Kaitāia to assist low-income whānau to move toward owning their own homes.

"We are also supporting He Korowai Trust's project to test an affordable rent-to-own homeownership model that enables whānau to not just put a roof over their heads, but eventually own it." 

The Northland economic plan has contributed to bringing down Northland's unemployment rate to 5.8 per cent from 8.0 per cent since March last year.