Iwi leading urgent housing rebuild and managed retreat for Wairoa

Wairoa has ready-to-go projects that could be accelerated to quickly get people back into homes following Cyclone Gabrielle, Minister Willie Jackson was told on a visit to Wairoa today.

Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa is seeking a government commitment to fund the first two years of the Tātau Tātau Housing Recovery Programme, and to work with Tātau Tātau in good faith to deliver the longer-term programme. The programme would get 140 homes built within two years, create training and jobs, and underpin an iwi-managed retreat from flood-prone areas.

Chair Leon Symes told  Jackson the need in Wairoa is urgent.  “With winter just over two months away, we need to show our community that real help is on the way.”

“Iwi have demonstrated the ability to respond quickly to the needs of our whole community and we have projects ready to address the issues that Cyclone Gabrielle has compounded. We can accelerate these with additional government support," Symes says.

Jackson who holds the associate housing minister, Māori development, social development and employment portfolios, visited homes devastated by Cyclone Gabrielle, the severely damaged Takitimu Marae, and the site for a planned factory, trade academy and worker accommodation for constructing new, prefabricated houses.

“Our message to Minister Jackson was that even before Cyclone Gabrielle, Wairoa had an escalating housing crisis, punctuated by older, poor-quality housing and increasing unaffordability, which was holding back Wairoa’s prospects for growth, and affecting the health and wellbeing of many Wairoa people.

150 displaced households

“Cyclone Gabrielle has taken Wairoa’s housing crisis to a whole new level. At least 30% of Wairoa’s homes were damaged. About 150 households have been displaced, and are living with others or in makeshift accommodation. Others have returned to their homes and are continuing the clean-up despite health and safety risks,” he said.

With government support, Wairoa has already started the journey towards a better housing future. Tatau Tatau o Te Wairoa’s 56-unit Te Raua affordable housing development will offer new housing options for kaumatua and whānau. Kainga Ora’s investment in a 30-unit development in Black Street will also target the rohe’s highest-need whanau.

Cyclone Gabrielle has, however, increased the urgency, complexity and costs of planned housing projects, including challenges in getting people and supplies into Wairoa. Wairoa immediately needs 150 new homes, and 500 new homes over the next 10 years to support growth.

Symes said the Housing Recovery Programme would more quickly deliver homes, jobs and opportunities to accelerate change and regenerate Te Wairoa.

“We are forging an iwi-managed retreat from flood-prone North Clyde. More than 70% of homes damaged by flooding were occupied by Māori, and more than 60% of those were rentals. We are looking to identify and buy 20 less flood-prone sections with existing services, to build 40 affordable rental homes.

“The housing repair and building programme will form a pathway to trades for our rangatahi and whānau. We want to establish a pre-fabrication factory here in partnership with industry providers, which will build the 140 homes required for recovery and regeneration over the next three years. This will assist 24 whānau every year for five years to be placed on a pathway into trades.”

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