Almost a thousand Kerikeri residents packed the Turner Centre Auditorium in Kerikeri, Northland to discuss Kāinga Ora's plans to build social housing in the town, with the debate getting heated at times.
Kāinga Ora has confirmed an agreement with Gemscott Developments to buy 20 new two-bedroom homes across two properties on Clark Road in Kerikeri, with Kāinga Ora taking ownership of the homes once complete. At 3 Clark Road, 12 homes within a three-level walk-up apartment building are expected, while at 5 Clark Road, eight two-storey terraced homes will be built.
Shane Jones, who has confirmed his tilt at another term in Parliament with New Zealand First, was a guest speaker at the meeting and he let both barrels go, aimed at both the Labour government and Kāinga Ora.
"The Labour government and Kāinga Ora have decided to dump over 200 social emergency housing residents in your neighbourhood.
"I'm sick to death of Kāinga Ora guilt-tripping existing neighbourhoods and existing communities. If they disagree, then they're branded racist or fascist."
Anika Dickey, a spokesperson for local group Our Kerikeri, admits there is worry among the community that social housing will become an issue in the small town but she says Kerikeri is totally committed to helping address New Zealand's housing crisis.
"There is an element of concern that comes with social housing and to not say that would be disingenuous. It is a concern.
Officials didn't appear
"No one's denying that we have a housing crisis and that we need to be a part of the solution and we should be part of the solution. It's just how we do it."
Local iwi Ngāti Rēhia understands the angst but kaumātua Kipa Munroe says the iwi is behind Kāinga Ora and social housing in Kerikeri.
"We should be worrying about those who are sleeping in cars, we should be worrying about those living cramped together in one room.
"The hope is that Kāinga Ora would first consider those from Ngāti Rēhia and then people from the wider iwi of Ngāpuhi."
Kāinga Ora and other government officials were absent from the meeting, choosing to not attend, which left mayor Moko Tepania and the Far North District Council to take the heat.
"The multitudes have come to listen and the government hasn't bothered to show up to respond.
"This is a government department issue, so we at the local council don't have a position where we can be advocates for the community."
Tepania says that his council takes the concerns of the community seriously but says the housing crisis won't go away all by itself.
"There should be social housing in all centres in Northland. There are thousands who are homeless."