Anger is mounting in a tranquil Northland suburb over plans by a government department to convert a popular park into state houses to meet growing demand.
Residents of Puriri Park Rd and adjacent streets in Maunu, Whangarei are annoyed no consultation has been undertaken by Housing New Zealand (HNZ) and complete a lack of information about the plan.
The first they learned of HNZ's intention to buy part of Puriri Park and to build sustainable houses was when they received a letter from Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti last weekend.
More than half the park is owned by the Ministry of Education and the rest by Whangarei District Council, but it is the Ministry-owned part of the park HNZ is in negotiations to buy for a housing development.
Disgruntled residents have organised a public meeting for June 9 at Barge Park and Reti said he would invite representatives from HNZ, WDC, Office of Treaty Settlements, Ministry of Education, and NZ Transport Agency.
The residents have also set up the "Save Puriri Park" Facebook page to voice their opposition to HNZ's plan.
HNZ said the government department had recently bought seven homes in Northland to add to its housing stocks and would continue to add to its Northland housing portfolio based on the Ministry of Social Development's social housing register.
"On that basis, we are currently in discussion with the Ministry of Education about the possible purchase of its land in the Puriri Park area. There will also be further purchases in the region," HNZ general manager asset development Patrick Dougherty said.
Ginny Blair lives opposite Puriri Park and said residents should expect a lot of "unsavoury" activities apart from an increase in foot traffic when state houses were built.
She regularly walks her dog in the park.
Her family moved to Puriri Park Rd five years ago in search of peace but said she would move if state houses went up.
"The park is getting destroyed for the sake of putting houses there. This is one of the best places to live in Whangarei and we've never felt as safe as we feel now," she said.
Another resident, Collins Dorothy, believes there are loads of sections throughout Whangarei on which state houses can be built.
Roy Walker lives about 500m down the road on Kotuku St and said authorities should be building up rather than utilising the few green spaces around the district.
"With an increase in population, there should be more green spaces. More houses mean more traffic and an increase in flood activities as there's no drainage available naturally on the ground," he said.
Having recently moved into the area, Michelle Hunt is another resident who is upset at the proposal.
"If this development goes through it will completely destroy the area. The house values will plummet as people will sell their houses cheap to get out of the area."
Reti said when concerned residents approached him at the end of last year, they weren't aware what was being planned. He has requested more information under the Official Information Act about the proposed development which he hoped would be available in time for the June meeting.
"Everyone understands the need for housing but there's also a need for parks. Everyone is angry there has been no consultation," he said.
At the end of last year, Housing NZ had 2090 state houses in Northland. Whangarei had 1306, Far North 673 and Kaipara 114.
The most recent figures from the Ministry of Social Development shows there were 235 people on the social housing waiting list in Northland.
In additional to 11 houses to be built in Kaitaia, Kaikohe and Whangarei under the regional housing initiative, HNZ has recently bought or is in the process of buying a further seven houses in Kamo, Kensington, Tikipunga and Woodhill in Whangarei. The four three-bedroom and three four-bedroom houses are worth about $4.3m.
Under the regional housing initiative, five two-bedroom units will be built in Kaikohe, two three-bedroom and one two-bedroom in Kaitaia, and two two-bedroom and one six-bedroom in Whangarei.