Te Arawa schools build homes for homeless

By Herewini Waikato

Kāinga Ora and secondary schools in Rotorua are working together under the Trade Academy Programme to meet the area’s urgent housing demand.

There are 900 whānau on the Rotorua housing waiting list, with 300 hundred new homes under construction, leaving the city 600 short.

Kāinga Ora‘s Nick Seymour visited Rotorua Boys High school today to get a first-hand account of how well the programme is running.

“Things are coming along really great. What we are doing is we are looking to build a social outcome as well as building housing outcomes and the intent is to train people for the future of our Aotearoa,” he said.

Today 20 students from Rotorua Boys High School were working on building two new homes. Last year’s students completed a first two homes that were sent off to families in need.

Rotorua Boys High School Te Reo Māori kaiako Te Rerewa Koopu has been with the young men over the past year and held a karakia for the two completed houses at the end of last year before they were sent off.

“The hope is these next homes will reach those desperately in need of a home again because there are a lot of whānau here in Rotorua who need them. Also for these young men to find employment to support their families and have the ability to build their own home in the near future, that’s great,” Koopu said. 

There are now three school trades academy partnerships in the Bay of Plenty – Rotorua Boys’ High School, Western Heights High School and Ōpōtiki College.

Across the country, there are 12 high school trades academies, as well as polytechnics and Corrections facilities building new, warm, dry public homes for Kāinga Ora. A kura kaupapa Māori school in Hamilton is on board and Kāinga Ora would like to work with more in the near future.

Students at the trade academies build the homes at their campus, supervised by a licensed building practitioner. The homes are warm, dry, healthy homes built to New Zealand Green Building Council Six Homestar standards.

This programme will run for four years and the aim is to build four homes between Western Heights and Rotorua Boys High School a year.

Rotorua Boys High School student Noah Roberts- Beckham from Ngāpuhi and Te Arawa was excited to be outside learning as indoors he found it hard to concentrate, he said.

“It’s awesome to learn outside of the classroom. But outdoors where I can learn hands-on, it’s great,” he said.

While classmate Turiokahu Rakuraku-White from Ruataahuna was glad to be able to koha these homes to whānau in need, “I think it’s great and also being able to use these skills to build my own home for my whānau back in Ruatāhuna,” he said.   

These two homes at Rotorua Boys High School will be completed in October this year and then the builders will move on to another two homes and build into 2024.