A lobby group is pleading with Kāinga Ora to stop all work on a controversial Whangārei state housing project until a proper assessment of a heritage property is made and a petition to Parliament dealt with.
The government entity - formerly Housing NZ - has started preliminary work on the construction of state houses on 3.2ha of land on Puriri Park Rd zoned for residential housing by the Whangārei District Council, after completing a heritage assessment.
The assessment was peer reviewed by Dave Pearson Architects.
Deconstruction of a house, earthworks, underground infrastructure, and road construction will be attended to before construction of homes is expected to begin in the first quarter of next year.
Kāinga Ora plans to build 15 one-bedroom duplexes, four two-bedroom duplexes, one three-bedroom standalone house, six three-bedroom duplexes, eight four-bedroom duplexes and three five-bedroom standalone homes.
In May, the Puriri Park and Maunu Residents Society, which are opposed to the project, presented to Parliament a petition that called the highest law-making body to investigate the development.
The petition has been referred to Parliament's Social Services and Community Committee for consideration.
Also in May, the society lodged an application with Heritage New Zealand for a house on the land, next to where the state houses are to be built, to be designated a heritage site.
The historical value of the house came to light from journal entries and photos provided to the society by the Auckland-based granddaughter of William Hector McBeath - presumably the first person to build on the site.
Her records show McBeath's family lived in two tents before the house was built and that William McBeath's son Lawrence was born in one of the tents.
Lawrence died in 2012 at age 95 in Selwyn Park Retirement Village, about 300m from the house, and his daughter dug out old photos and journals that formed part of the Heritage NZ claim.
Kāinga Ora programme director Nick Seymour said the heritage submission paper had been reviewed/assessed and then peer reviewed by a specialist heritage architect.
"The peer review concluded the house has some minor historical significance, but is not of major heritage value. The peer reviewer recommended a detailed photographic record of the house be made before demolition.
"Kāinga Ora has completed a photographic record of the home, and will seek an appropriate community organisation to whom it will give this record."
The heritage assessment report said the property in question, bought by William McBeath in 1917 and the house and surrounding land developed soon after, did not satisfy the definition of an archaeological site under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014.
While the society considered the house was the forerunner of the art deco style, the report said its style and features placed it firmly in the category of the Californian Bungalow.
Society secretary Rosemary Morgan said it was not Kāinga Ora's place to determine that the building was "very unlikely to warrant protection" when the most important information has not been considered.
She referred to Lloyd Trigg, a school-aged boy when his parents died, who went to live with his aunt and uncle who owned the house beside the green space on Puriri Park Rd.
"We are formally requesting that you do not proceed with any preparations of the land you own in Puriri Park Rd including the demolition of 87 Puriri Park Rd until after the issues we have identified, have been satisfactorily resolved and our petition has been heard in Parliament by the select committee process," she said in a letter to Kāinga Ora.
Heritage New Zealand's area manager for Northland, Bill Edwards, said taking photos as Kāinga Ora's peer reviewer recommended was the lowest amount of information to be gathered while determining a place of historical significance.
A full analysis was not done and there did not appear to be any mention of Victoria Cross recipient Lloyd Trigg whose aunt Ada McBeath was William McBeath's wife, he said.