South Otago town of Kaitangata makes world headlines punting the Kiwi dream

Kaitangata, which is attracting worldwide attention with its housing offer,  is about 10km south-east of Balclutha, and sits on the left bank of the Clutha River. Photo /Otago Daily Times
Kaitangata, which is attracting worldwide attention with its housing offer, is about 10km south-east of Balclutha, and sits on the left bank of the Clutha River. Photo /Otago Daily Times

Tiny Kaitangata in the South Island is making world headlines with its ambitious push to entice city dwellers to relocate to the South Otago town with attractive land and house offers, and the lure of an abundance of jobs.

Stories appearing today in Britain's The Guardian and France's Le Figaro are broadcasting the drive of the small town near the mouth of the Clutha River to expand its population beyond its 800 residents, with responses already streaming in on Twitter from as far afield as Pakistan, Italy, the UK and further, and with enquiries already swamping the Clutha District Council's offices.

Under the scheme city dwellers are being offered house and land packages at around $230,000 - a price exasperated Auckland house hunters would not be able to imagine in their wildest dreams as the country's housing crisis continues to bite.

The newspapers quoted Clutha district mayor Bryan Cadogan saying there are up to a 100 vacant jobs available at the moment in the area, and virtually no unemployment.

"We have got youth unemployment down to two. Not 2 per cent - just two unemployed young people," he said.

And mayor Cadogan knows what he is talking about when me mentions unemployment.

He has been out of a job himself, not knowing which way to turn. And he knows who gave him a break.

"When I was unemployed and had a family to feed, the Clutha gave me a chance, and now we want to offer that opportunity to other Kiwi families who might be struggling."

The mayor tells of his despair at imagining Auckland people working day and night to be able to afford their housing, while the town could offer them "a job, a home and an easier life!"

The Kiwi dream is still possible in the town, he said. The major employers in the area are linked to primary industries - including a dairy processing plant and freezing works - and for many years they have been forced to bus in workers from the Dunedin, over an hour away.

"So many of the things Kiwis value, such as owning your own home and providing for your family, have become an impossible dream. For a lot of people in New Zealand life is just an endless slog. And that really saddens me."

The drive to attract people to the town, known by locals as simply "Kai", is spearheaded by dairy farmer Evan Dick, a third-generation resident who set up a project called Kaitangata Promotions to shore up local government, banks and lawyers to smooth the path for those wanting to take up the offer.

"The housing crisis in New Zealand has made the Kiwi dream unattainable for many people, but in Kaitangata the Kiwi dream is still a reality," Dick told The Guardian.

And he told the Otago Daily Times that the Clutha District Council have already showed support with a fee reimbursement scheme available to those with the intention of building on the land, in the hope they will move to Kaitangata to live.

Three buyers have already snapped up land for development, with the first being a family from Auckland, but Dick is hoping for a much bigger uptake.

"I'm rapt with the response so far, but we want 30 houses [sold] not just three.''

He told One News that a house in Kaitangata would require around $40,000 dollars deposit and a $200,000 loan, which over 20 years would cost around $340 a week.

The project's 26-page prospectus for the drive sells the affordable Kiwi living idea under the slogan "Kaitangata, raising the bar & going for gold".

The Clutha District Council today put a link on their website acknowledging the global response to the offer.

"Thank you to all those who have got in touch about the house and land packages in Kaitangata and the jobs available in the district, we certainly were not expecting this story to go global!"

They caution, however, that if you live outside of New Zealand you will need to check out the country's immigration rules to find out if you're eligible to live and work in New Zealand.

"If you do meet the criteria and you'd like to know more about the House and Land packages available in Kaitangata, then please contact Clutha Development Inc at info@cluthanz.com , as well as the Kaitangata package they may be able to match your CV to available jobs in our district. You can also check out the website www.cluthacountry.co.nz."

The message added: "Please be patient when waiting for a response as there has been significant interest in this story."

- NZ Herald

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