Property editor of the NZ Herald

Ngati Whatua reveal house project challenges

Ngarimu Blair outside the new housing development being built on Ngati Whatua land in Orakei. Photo / Dean Purcell
Ngarimu Blair outside the new housing development being built on Ngati Whatua land in Orakei. Photo / Dean Purcell

Building defects, cost control problems and construction delays are revealed in a documentary-style video on Ngati Whatua Orakei's revolutionary new 30-residence Auckland housing estate.

A six-part film series shows how plans for exterior panels on the residences were down-scaled and cheaper weatherboards were instead used.

The series also reveals difficulties of getting subcontractors to the site, specialist sub-trades returning to fix problems, issues with civil works, delays from an extremely wet winter and surprise at the large size of batteries for solar panels.

The progress and philosophy behind the housing scheme featured in the films on the Kainga Tuatahi at Orakei.

Each clip is only about three minutes long but has interviews with people who were key to the success of the development near Bastion Point.

Many iwi members have become home owners for the first time due to the development, the films show.

Episode one, Getting Started, tells about the philosophy behind the concept and interviews Rangimarie Hunia, a Ngati Whatua trust elected representative who tells how the iwi has been based in Tamaki for the last 300 years.

"One of the aspirations we have is to be able to provide a vibrant and dynamic community in Orakei. Never in their lives have their families been able to own their own homes, so that's pretty stunning," she said.

Episode two, The Design Development, features interviews with Gary Lawson and Nicholas Stevens of award-winning Stevens Lawson Architects. Stevens tells how the development could not be "just a bunch of housing" but the creation of an entirely new community.

Episode three, Work Starts on Site, features Kate Healy, Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa chief operation officer, talking about tenders being let and safety fences going up. Home buyers Dave and Rewa Harriman talk about the excitement of owning their first place.
Healy revealed how staging the project was considered but said the preference was to work on both sides of Kupe St simultaneously.

Episode four, Coming Out of the Ground, shows pre-cast concrete panels being craned onto the site. Healy talks about challenges with the design "and the numbers came in higher than we'd hope." The original design had to be modified, primarily using exterior weatherboards instead of more expensive panels originally planned, she said.

Episode five, Getting it Weathertight, features Healy telling how the beings were being enclosed and walls being lined.

"Our most significant challenge has been the weather. We've had a really long, wet winter in Auckland," Healy says, also saying some of the civil works had to be "redone". Homeowner Rewa Harriman tells of excitement seeing the project come together. Anahera Raiwi, buying a four-bedroom residence, is also featured.

Episode six, Fixtures, Fittings and Finishings, shows completed residences with mailboxes, fences and landscaping. Healy said the challenges included contractors "having a little bit of difficulties getting subcontractors onto the site so that has caused us some delays and it's caused us some defects.

"So we got to practical completion and we got everyone moving into their homes on the day we said we would but since then, we've had to work backwards and go back and fix things that weren't quite right," Healy said.

But the Harrimans were seen inside their residence, telling how large the places were and how impressed guests were. Urban designer Sarah Coady tells of native plants used in landscaping, vegetable garden areas, swales for stormwater treatment and worm farms.

Healy told how Ngati Whatua had worked with Vector to get solar panels in the project but how surprised she was about the large size of batteries.

- NZ Herald

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