Porirua - Ambitious project but some locals still worry

By Te Ao with MOANA
A $1.5 billion facelift is planned for eastern Porirua.

Article by Te Ao with Moana reporter Iulia Leilua.

Eastern Porirua is to get a $1.5 billion facelift thanks to a new government initiative that will renew or build nearly 3,000 state homes and beautify the area.  Another 2,000 affordable Kiwibuild or market homes will also be built under the partnership between Treasury, Housing NZ, HLC, Porirua City Council and Ngāti Toa.

Most state homes in eastern Porirua were built in the 1950s and 60s and are damp, overcrowded and not fit for purpose.

In the government’s proposed business case released under the Official Information Act, eastern Porirua was earmarked for regeneration because of the government's plans to:

  • Deliver affordable housing in a time of worsening shortage in supply;
  • Improve the wellbeing of eastern Porirua public housing tenants and address the current renewal liability for HNZ stock;
  • Improve amenities, community infrastructure and connectivity in a way that benefits the wellbeing of all eastern Porirua residents; and
  • Build resilience in the community.

The business case reveals the government has high density, small unit housing in mind.  Analysis by commercial real estate company CBRE indicates that “there is already existing demand for over 1,000 terraced dwellings [valued] around $500,000 from households across Wellington that could be met specifically by housing in eastern Porirua.”

In eastern Porirua, half the population is of Pacific descent and 20% are Māori. 

Lorna Kanavatoa has been living in Waitangirua for 37 years. She says despite being reassured they will be re-housed, many state housing tenants are worried they will be moved out of the area.

“If we are to remain here it would be the biggest gift that we could have,” says Kanavatoa.  “People don’t want to be disconnected from their families and friends that they know, it’s the big thing around the community. The other thing is about rising rents, they have been promised nothing will change, but that’s not what’s happened anywhere else.”

Matuavao Pusa Finau is a double amputee who has been living in Porirua for 43 years.  He’s worried about air quality and safety when two Transmission Gully road links are opened in Porirua.  He also wants more accessible state houses for disabled tenants.

The biggest impacts though could affect tenants of private rentals like Tracie Morrison, who will not be rehoused by the government.  Her landlord has indicated he will sell the house she is renting if an offer is made, leaving her worried about where she will go.

“It’s one of the poorest communities in Porirua, where do you go when you can’t afford to live in Cannons Creek?” she says.

The nearest low-cost locations for people priced out of Porirua are Otaki and Levin.