In suburban pockets around Auckland, areas of the 1950s and 1960s state houses are being demolished and the land they sat on is being transformed into vibrant, urban designed neighbourhoods. And equally importantly, the supply of new housing is increasing.
Government agency Kāinga Ora — Houses and Communities are immersed in five major intensification projects under the Auckland Housing Programme which will deliver more than 34,000 new homes within the city footprint over the next two decades.
Kāinga Ora's urban development and delivery group coordinate all the land development and infrastructure work before handing it over to developers and builders. It controls the design of urban development, as well as building its own 2020s-styled statehouses.
Mark Fraser, general manager of Kāinga Ora Urban Development and Delivery, says the residential construction sector in New Zealand has always lacked scale — "it's a risky business, it's not easy and plenty of people have gone bust doing it.
"We have a once in a century opportunity to improve the supply, quality and affordability of our homes — both state and privately-owned — and also improve the liveability of our neighbourhoods.
"We've set out to prove that medium density (terrace houses and apartments) can be done well and is attractive to the market. We do a master plan in a considered way and leave behind a successful community. In that sense, we have over-achieved," says Fraser.
"Culturally, New Zealand has a thing about the suburban idea of the quarter-acre section and has been slow to accept other forms of housing outside the standalone home. Terrace housing on a 300-330sq m section is okay, as demonstrated at Hobsonville Point. It worked better than we imagined."
Kāinga Ora Urban Development and Delivery is finishing up at Hobsonville after selling its first home there in 2012 and delivering a total of 4000 houses, 20 per cent of them in the affordable category.
Now the Kāinga Ora team is focusing on delivering builder-ready land in state housing areas closer in the city. It is planning 11,000 homes in Mt Roskill, with the development of 1100 houses underway in Roskill South.
There are another 10,000 homes planned for Mangere; 1200 for Oranga tucked in between Ellerslie and Onehunga; and 10,500 in Tamaki (Glen Innes, Point England and Panmure) in conjunction with the Tamaki Regeneration.
The old statehouses in Tamaki are currently being replaced by warm, 6 Homestar rated homes in six neighbourhoods — Line-Epping, Hinaki, Overlea, West Tamaki, Derna Tobruk and Dunkirk.
The most advanced project is Northcote next to its town centre, which is also being revamped by Eke Panuku Development Auckland.
After the first spades went into the ground in 2018, Northcote is the first large-scale brownfields project on existing Kāinga Ora land where 300 1960s state houses will be replaced by 1600 homes in an urban-designed community of parks and walkways.
The delivery team will be completing the land and infrastructure development on the 14 hectares next year — the work has been done in four stages — and all the new homes are expected to be ready by late 2025.
There will be 480 new state houses available to rent for tenants on the State Housing waiting list; more than a third of KiwiBuild homes (in the $525,000-$650,000 price range); and another third on the open market. The total number of homes will have a retail value of about $1.28 billion.
The homes will look out over a new green corridor called Awataha Greenway which follows the path of the former stream and acts as flood protection.
"The old state houses were built with their backs to the stream and made poor use of the open spaces and amenity," says Fraser. "We have heroed the stream as a linear park.
"In our developments, including Mt Roskill and Mangere, we are finding wonderful green spaces that have small entrances and are enclosed by the back fencing."
The Te Auaunga Awa (Oakley Creek) is also being restored in Mt Roskill with walkways and parks, making the suburb more green and connected. "By orienting new housing to overlook the awa, it will become a safer place to play, exercise, walk and cycle, as well as have a positive visual amenity for the neighbourhoods," says Fraser.
Already 284 homes have been completed in Northcote — 101 state houses, 111 affordable (KiwiBuild) and 72 open-market homes. Kāinga Ora funds the statehouses and sells the rest of the land to developers and builders such as TLC, Universal, Fletcher and NZ Living for the other homes, with the proceeds going back into further land development work.
The apartment buildings at Northcote will reach five levels — they will only be three levels at Mangere and Mt Roskill — and property businesses will own and run them as rentals.
Kāinga Ora maintains control of the development by insisting the buyers build within a certain timeframe and meet the design standards and density.
The delivery team also collaborates with iwi, and council controlled organisations such as Watercare and Panuku to complete the community feel and amenities.
"It ends up being a real team effort," says Fraser. "We want to build more variety into the form, size and tenure of the dwellings. We are not setting out to build super high-end housing — we just want to stimulate the general and affordable housing supply."
The delivery team ensures the new houses meet the healthy home and sustainability standards — unlike the old statehouses.
The new homes have insulation and double glazing to reduce heating costs; they are designed to take advantage of the sun to create living spaces that are warm and light wherever possible; and they have energy-efficient lights and water-efficient showers, toilets and taps.
Kāinga Ora Development and Delivery is also involved in developing 139 Greys Ave in central Auckland after the old building was demolished. The site is being transformed into three modern buildings with 276 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, and at least 200 of them will be retained as state housing. The remainder will be rented to the private market, and construction will be completed by next year.
The development, with a 24/7 concierge service, encompasses supportive housing with services such as healthcare, counselling and skills development so that residents can lead more stable and productive lives.
There is more than 2000 sq m of communal space featuring a shared kitchen-dining hall, and recreation. Each floor also has informal gathering spaces to create a sense of home and community.
"We are tackling the housing shortage and homelessness, and Greys Ave will help get people off the street and into homes," says Fraser. "The same applies to the state housing waiting list. Our developments will help meet the needs of tenants and match them with the right location."
• Kainga Ora is a sponsor of the Herald's Project Auckland report.