Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

State house tenants heckle Smith

Cries of 'shame' greet Housing Minister in Glen Innes as he launches redevelopment plan for Tamaki area.

Glen Innes residents artist Emily Karaka and community worker Tamati Patuwai oppose the plan to develop the area. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Glen Innes residents artist Emily Karaka and community worker Tamati Patuwai oppose the plan to develop the area. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Calls of "shame" greeted Housing Minister Nick Smith when he arrived in Glen Innes to launch a redevelopment plan for the Tamaki area.

"Shame on you. We are a community, not a company," shouted about 10 state house tenants as dignitaries filed into the launch at the Ruapotaka Marae yesterday.

Aroha Robson, 58, whose family have lived in the same state house in Taniwha St for 63 years, smoked as she held up a placard showing a photo of herself outside her house.

"This has made me start smoking again because it's so stressful."

She lives just outside the two initial areas where Housing NZ has started removing houses for redevelopment, but inside the wider Tamaki area of 5000 homes covered by the new 25-year redevelopment plan.

"They told me we were not going to be touched. Now we are," she said.

Ihaia Hoto, 56, said his wife and son had to leave their state house in one of the initial development areas and now the family have been told that they will have to leave the house they have been moved into, in another part of Glen Innes, within the next five years.

"My wife has had a stroke because we got kicked out of our house up there," he said.

The Tamaki Redevelopment Company, jointly owned by the Government and Auckland Council, proposes to more than double the number of homes in the area from 5000 to 11,000 through more intensive development.

Speakers inside the marae also raised concerns. Puamiria Maaka, chief executive of social service agency Te Waipuna Puawai, said local people wanted a "partnership" with developers. "That is not happening yet."

Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board chairman Simon Randall said the board would facilitate community feedback on the plan and urged the company to be flexible about its closing date of July 19.

Glen Innes Family Centre manager Chris Makoare said community agencies had won agreement from Housing NZ to pay their advocates when tenants facing removal requested help, but he did not know whether the new company would adopt the same policy.

Dr Smith promised that the redevelopment would include at least the current Housing NZ tally of 2880 homes in the area in "social housing". However, he said, not all of those would be owned by Housing NZ.

"Whether the landlord is Housing NZ or the Tamaki Redevelopment Company, or whether the landlord is a partnership with iwi or organisations like the NZ Housing Trust or the Salvation Army, I can't say," he said.

"The commitment is that there will be no less social housing in the area than what there is now."

Settle Treaty claims first, says artist

Artist Emily Karaka says she cannot leave her Glen Innes state house because of a Treaty of Waitangi claim for all state houses with tenants from Auckland's original Maori tribes.

Ms Karaka, 61, is an artist whose painting Polynesian Potae, a tribute to rap artist King Kapisi, hangs in the office of Mayor Len Brown.

She challenged Mr Brown and Housing Minister Nick Smith yesterday at a press conference launching a new 25-year plan to double the number of homes in the Tamaki area.

"What is really mamae [suffering] to me is the removal of tangata whenua from this area," she told them.

A co-claimant for Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, Ms Karaka said the Auckland iwi groups negotiating with the Government to settle claims for Treaty of Waitangi breaches wanted to take back Housing NZ houses occupied by people from their iwi.

"It's actually a real sticking point with the 13 mana whenua groups across Tamaki. We want the Housing NZ stock to come over to mana whenua," she said.

The Tamaki Transformation Company said 23 per cent of people in the proposed redevelopment area were Maori, and Ms Karaka estimated that 80 per cent of Maori in state houses in the area were from the iwi involved in the Auckland claims.

She lives alone in a three-bedroom house with a backyard which is likely to be targeted for more intensive development, but she said the company should wait for the Treaty claims to be settled.

On the web:
www.tamakitrc.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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