Papamoa is rallying around the new emergency housing village on Opal Drive, and a local school is preparing to welcome the families and children living there.

Bruce Jepsen, principal of Te Akau ki Papamoa School, which is about 500m away from the new houses, said it was highly likely the new children would attend his school this year.

"I'm really positive about that. Any child within our school zone is entitled to come to our school, and I think we're a great option.

"The children are going to be well positioned – it's just down the road, we've got fantastic staff, we're really eager to get the children in here and get about doing our jobs. That's what we do."

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Te Akau ki Papamoa School would have pre-enrolment days before the start of the school year and Jepsen expected some of the whanau living in the emergency housing village to process their enrolments then.

Early next week he and his leadership team are also planning to visit and touch base with the families to make them feel welcome.

Bruce Jepsen, principal of Te Akau ki Papamoa School, says the school community is looking forward to welcoming children and families from the new emergency housing village. PHOTO/FILE
Bruce Jepsen, principal of Te Akau ki Papamoa School, says the school community is looking forward to welcoming children and families from the new emergency housing village. PHOTO/FILE

Mike Bryant, the Bay of Plenty regional commissioner for social development, said it was early days but the new families were settling in well, and more were expected to move in next month.

He said support from the community, which included the donation of hampers, toiletries and other items, had been appreciated.

"The centre of the complex has become a hub for children playing and families coming together. TCHT [Tauranga Community Housing Trust] are aware that this creates an added buzz to the neighbourhood and are working with families to make sure they're mindful of those around them if any feedback about noise levels is received."

Bryant said once the other families had moved in, the trust - which managed the village - would arrange a barbecue in recognition of the facility opening and to help further connect the families, "ensuring they are well placed to transition into long-term housing".


No concerns raised, say local leaders

Four community leaders in Papamoa say they have received no negative feedback since the new emergency housing village on Opal Drive opened before Christmas.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said the initiative was by all accounts working well and everything he had seen had been positive.

"This is seen as genuinely a good thing to be doing – helping particularly local solo mums with emergency housing and the fact they've got someone there full time just adds to the sense of security for both the families there and the wider community."

He said it was "fantastic" Papamoa had got behind the idea, despite there being some concern from the community early on.

"Now it's there, and people can see it in action and obviously the community has a whole lot of comfort with that which is great."

City councillors for Papamoa, Steve Morris and Leanne Brown, had also not heard any concerns from residents.

"Everything I have read and heard has been very positive including locals dropping in food, gifts and clothes to the families over Christmas," Brown said.

"People are wanting to reach out and make these families feel welcome in our neighbourhood."

Wayne George, chairman of the Papamoa Progressive Association, had also not received any negative feedback about the village.