New MP Michael Wood fears housing costs will result in 'homogenised' neighbourhood

Mt Roskill MP Michael Wood focused on the housing and transport issues of his constitutency in his maiden speech to Parliament today, saying decent affordable housing was at the heart of a stable community. Photo / Michael Craig
Mt Roskill MP Michael Wood focused on the housing and transport issues of his constitutency in his maiden speech to Parliament today, saying decent affordable housing was at the heart of a stable community. Photo / Michael Craig

Newly fledged Mt Roskill MP Michael Wood has delivered his maiden speech to Parliament, saying he was concerned the cost of housing in his electorate would "homogenise" the diverse community.

Delivering his maiden speech at Parliament today, Wood focused on the housing and transport issues of Mt Roskill, saying decent affordable housing was at the heart of a stable community.

"It worries me deeply that a young couple like [wife] Julie and I 14 years ago today need a million dollars to buy into my working class, decile 2 street in Roskill South. I fear that my mixed community risks being homogenised when ordinary working people are being priced out of basic rentals."

He said Mt Roskill was an area families had come to for a start in life for hundreds of years - from pre-European Maori to British settlers and working class families after the state house programme in the 1930s and 1940s.

He said since then it had attracted people from the Pacific, Asia and other regions. "Some fled war and persecution, others poverty and insecurity. But all have come for that same reason, to make a start, to build a life for their families and to contribute."

He said his own family was among them - he and wife settled in Mt Roskill in their early 20s, more than a decade ago.

Wood said he had learned that a fair society and strong communities were critical for individuals to flourish.

"Communities with decent housing, high-quality education, good jobs, living wages and a bit of stability and hope will have the resources to get through with fewer interventions."

Wood noted his predecessor Phil Goff had also spoken about housing in the area in his maiden speech in 1981.

Wood paid tribute to the work of Goff, whose departure from Parliament to be Auckland Mayor had triggered the byelection which put Wood in Parliament.

Wood had served as Goff's electorate chair in Mt Roskill. Wood also got in a further pitch for one of his campaign pledges by Labour - to take a light rail link from the CBD to Dominion Rd, saying he thanked Goff for his service "and also thank you for our forthcoming discussion about paying for Dominion Rd light rail."

Wood said he intended to keep pushing for that light rail link, saying Auckland needed to focus on infrastructure, or risk choking.

Wood said it was increasingly fashionable to deride politics but politicians had a responsibility to engage in ideas and meaningful debate.

"If we don't ... people lose faith in the capacity of democracy to provide solutions. I reject the notion that New Zealanders don't care about politics anymore." Although it was a sometimes fractious byelection, Wood also acknowledged his rival National List MP Parmjeet Parmar "and thank her for an energetic campaign which ensured Mt Roskill voters had a real choice on offer at the polls."

That could have been a reference to National's decision not to stand in the Mt Albert byelection, which will take place on February 25.

Wood also thanked his family - saying his wife Julie Fairey balanced her support for his career with her own involvement as a local body politician, and referring to the understanding of his two eldest sons and "the relative indifference of my one-year-old son Thomas".

- NZ Herald

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