MP's housing quip riles councillors

By Nikki Preston

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern says she never meant to give offence with her 'light-hearted' remark about housing in some areas of Hamilton looking identical. Photo / Christine Cornege
Labour MP Jacinda Ardern says she never meant to give offence with her 'light-hearted' remark about housing in some areas of Hamilton looking identical. Photo / Christine Cornege

Hamilton politicians are upset at the city being made the butt of yet another joke after Labour MP Jacinda Ardern singled it out for having lookalike houses.

The Labour list MP, who moved from Waikato to Auckland before the last election, was responding to comments by Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson about how in San Diego there were "huge suburbs of buildings that were identical".

He said it would be cheaper but questioned whether New Zealanders were ready for it.

Ms Ardern said the concept already existed here: "It's called Hamilton."

Her comments have angered local politicians.

Hamilton City councillor Dave Macpherson hit back yesterday at the "foolish swipe at Hamilton".

"If you try to belittle one part of New Zealand at the expense of everyone else then that's pathetic."

He said Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch also had similar examples and felt Hamilton was unfairly targeted.

Councillor Angela O'Leary posted on her Facebook page: "Boo MP Jacinda Ardern making a tacky and negative and, I think, unfounded comment about out lovely city."

Ms Ardern said yesterday that it was not a serious quip and she felt councillors were being over-sensitive.

"Of course I clarified directly after. It was unfair to characterise an entire city in that way but there were some particular suburbs that did sprout up very, very quickly."

She said she never meant any offence with her "light-hearted" comment and there were examples of new development in Auckland where similar things had happened.

Hamilton businessman Andrew Yeoman, who is developing a 38-house subdivision in Queens Ave, Frankton, said there was nothing wrong with houses being the same provided they looked appealing.

"There are lots of houses in Hamilton that look the same but there are houses in Italy and France and everywhere in the world that look the same," he said.

"I think if they have a good urban design outcome it doesn't matter if they look the same."

The city council has worked over the years to stop Hamilton being the butt of national jokes, including being dubbed New Zealand's "bogan city".

Mayor Julie Hardaker said Hamilton had such stunning natural features that it did not matter if in time all the houses looked similar.

"Hamilton is often the butt of jokes but anyone who has been to Hamilton knows it's a great place."

- NZ Herald

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