Three hundred state houses in the North Shore's Northcote are being replaced by 1200 new residences in a $750 million intensification on Housing NZ Corporation land.

Chris Aiken, chief executive of Homes Land Community (HLC), formerly the Hobsonville Land Company - is in charge of master planning and the bulk of free-market home delivery. He showed how Māori-style architecture dominates the first 50 residences at the papakāinga.

The Northcote project is the biggest in New Zealand for a state house transformation: 300 old state residences from last century are being replaced by 400 new residences.

Duplex and stand-alone 1940s and 1950s state houses are being demolished or removed, replaced by 400 new state homes, 400 KiwiBuild homes and 400 affordable free-market homes, Aiken said.

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Around 3000 people will live in the rebuilt community. State house tenants are being moved temporarily while new houses are built.

With a redevelopment that big, he said it was a no-brainer to bring Aotearoa-style design principles to the scheme in what Māori architect Rewi Thompson of Isthmus called everyday homes.

Aiken said Thompson designed the new terraced, stand-alone whare on Tonar St and the newly-created Paetahi Lane behind it, replacing wooden stand-alone and duplex state houses. Where there was once one row of housing, now there are two.

"Shapes, angles and verticality reflects tikanga design principles and the manu whenua colours of deep reds, greys, cream compliment that," Aiken said.

And unlike at Tāmaki where protestors were vociferous and residents lay down in front of trucks to stop state houses going, Aiken said Northcote had not drawn that level of dissent.

Read more: State house tenants march against housing sales

"There's been a depth of engagement with the community at Northcote. This started in 2016. When you come into vulnerable communities, people don't feel they have a voice. We have consulted with about 400 families."

New meets old: Northcote as it was and as it is changing. Photo / Michael Craig
New meets old: Northcote as it was and as it is changing. Photo / Michael Craig

Robert Graham, HLC's Northcote precinct director, pointed to vertical-palings on fences stained black to resemble distinctive defence palisades at fortifications built by tangata whenua

"We didn't want that raw wood look."

Aiken said HLC had master-planned the changes and was working with builders Universal and Classic on KiwiBuild and affordable homes to be sold on the private market, while Housing NZ was developing the 400 new state houses to replace the existing 300.

The late Rewi Thompson designed these Northcote homes. Photo / Michael Craig
The late Rewi Thompson designed these Northcote homes. Photo / Michael Craig

The changes would result in a far healthier community "with a mix of state tenants and first-home buyers", Aiken said.

The financial model means the project "washes its face - the money is returned into the programme, it's close to a self-funding model," said Aiken.

Robert Graham, left, HLC precinct director, with Chris Aikens, HLC chief executive at Northcote. Photo / Michael Craig
Robert Graham, left, HLC precinct director, with Chris Aikens, HLC chief executive at Northcote. Photo / Michael Craig

Housing NZ uses its state land to develop far more and far better warm, insulated new state homes, but a much bigger scheme overall is developed, Aiken said. More than half that new scheme is sold, funding the new state-housing development in the area, he said.

Chris Aiken, HLC chief executive, pictured at Northcote. Photo / Michael Craig
Chris Aiken, HLC chief executive, pictured at Northcote. Photo / Michael Craig

Already, 20 state homes have been demolished or removed, costing around $15,000 each on average to demolish, Graham said. The 800 homes to be sold will start in the $500,000-$600,000 range with larger places more expensive.

Aiken said asbestos in soffits, vinyl floor coverings and lower skirt claddings and lead paint meant hazards at existing homes, made reuse harder. Two-level duplexes were difficult and expensive to relocate, he said.

HLC is also working with Housing NZ on projects at Mangere, Mt Roskill, Three Kings and Onehunga, "master-planning these", Aiken said there was a 15-year timeline for the work.