National | Housing

Housing development with kaumātua at centre begins in Rotorua

A new housing project is underway in Rotorua that will help more than 340 whānau.

Ōwhata 2B and 7 trustees, government representatives and Ngāti Te Roro o te Rangi Iwi gathered for a soil-turning ceremony marking the beginning of the project in Ōwhata.

Ōwhata Kōhanga Rākau is being billed as an innovative, affordable housing scheme that will create 93 mixed-tenure homes and will benefit more than 340 local whānau.

A key feature of the housing design is to support multi-generational living, and has 20 specifically designed two-bedroom kaumātua whare at the centre.

The houses will be a combination of affordable and social rentals, and mix of one, two, three and four-bedroom family homes.

The project received funding from the Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga (Ministry of Housing), which will assist with construction beginning with earthworks due to commence this week.

'Innovative approach'

Ōwhata Trust chairman Jason Rogers says the housing initiative is the result of years of planning and a vision to provide whānau security of tenure with new, warm and affordable homes.

“We started with a vision of providing whare for our kaumātua, which is at the heart of this project. As time went on, the project evolved to provide a mix of housing for wider whānau and different circumstances, where an innovative approach to multi-generational living has been taken,” he says.

“We know from experience that those that get the opportunity to live in new, warm homes start to thrive. The stability that this new housing provides will have a significant positive impact on both the residents and the wider community. Close ties to the nearby Ōwhata Marae and a raft of partner support services will further support the hauora (wellbeing) of whānau living here,” says Rogers.

Housing ministry backs project

While the development is being built on iwi-owned whenua, the Ministry of Housing has contributed significant financial support. The He Taupae fund was utilised for initial site investigations such as master planning, geotechnical investigations etc, and now, the Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga will provide funding through its Māori Infrastructure Fund.

The Ministry is supporting the development with $12.5m towards the infrastructure costs.

“This is an important housing project for Rotorua to increase housing supply where it is most needed. We are proud we are able to support this development and of how it will benefit whānau and the Rotorua community.

“The ministry’s Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga funding of the project is a commitment to speed up the delivery of Māori-led housing. We know the need for housing in Rotorua is an urgent issue because new housing has not kept up with the population. This development is another example of how we are helping communities by building more houses where the needs are greatest,” deputy chief executive Māori housing Kararaina Calcott-Cribb says.

Opening next year

Accommodation shortages in Rotorua have been at critical levels with a lack of new affordable homes. The Ōwhata Kōhanga Rākau whare will be predominantly owned by the trust and offered for rent with a number available for purchase.

“Many generations of whānau will benefit from the work we are undertaking as kaitiaki of this whenua,” Rogers says.

With the soil-turning ceremony now completed, bulk earthworks construction will now start, with the development and houses expected to be ready for occupation next year.

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