Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Mayor's low rent dilemma

Malcolm Campbell. Photo / APN
Malcolm Campbell. Photo / APN

Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell is boiling mad.

He's just been called - again - about Government figures naming his town as the beneficiary capital of New Zealand.

The media wants to "make a big deal about beneficiaries instead of saying good things about Kawerau," he growls down the phone at the Herald on Sunday.

"I'm getting quite angry about it actually."

But the figures don't lie. Well, they probably do - but for the worse, Campbell concedes.

That's because the numbers are from 2011, before vine disease Psa all-but wrecked the Bay of Plenty kiwifruit industry.

"[Beneficiary numbers] probably got a bit worse," said Campbell.

He knows Kawerau is attractive to those on a benefit because of low-cost housing.

A three-bedroom house with a garage costs about $185 a week to rent, according to LJ Hooker Kawerau boss Margaret Jensen, who also confirms 80 per cent of its 200 renters are beneficiaries.

Those without a job should not be allowed to move to Kawerau, with the exception of those with family in the town, Campbell said.

"If you haven't got a job, don't come to Kawerau. We've been a dumping ground here for many years."

But Campbell and other community leaders have formed the Kawerau Education and Training Trust.

The trust is just about to take on its first 10 young recruits.

They will spend a year learning trade skills by doing up houses bought by the trust to fund the project.

- NZ Herald

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