Northland's homeless crisis is getting a helping hand from an unlikely source - students at Dargaville High School.
The first house built for the Government's social housing agency Kāinga Ora, (formerly Housing NZ) has been uplifted from Dargaville High School's Building Academy site.
The five-bedroom, two-bathroom house, built to Kāinga Ora's own specifications, and designed to be moved in one piece, was bound for Kaitaia and was due on site last Friday.
The Building Academy's head tutor, Tim Pratt, said the house was one of up to six that he hoped would be built this year by the academy's eight to 10, full-time Year 13 students.
"We've got two more conventional sized houses for Kāinga Ora very close to completion right now, and all going well, we should be able to deliver at least three more by Christmas."
Transporting the 20m long house was a major logistical exercise for Maungaturoto house moving company, Poyners, and involved multiple permits, escort vehicles, a large crew and the deployment of police and utility companies for the 200 plus-km road trip via Kerikeri across to Kaitaia.
A spokesperson for Poyners said the specially designed truck and trailer could handle the length and nearly 8m width of the house, as the trailer has a powered extension system that nearly doubles its length.
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"We were right at the end of our capacity with a house that size, but the trailer's multiple sets of wheels are all able to be steered individually from the truck which means once we jack the house up – we can put the trailer almost anywhere under it. We can also then raise and lower the complete load to get above things like fences, bridge railings and gates."
The DHS Building Academy primarily builds houses for Kāinga Ora, but does construct architecturally designed houses of its own for private sale.
The students work under the strict supervision of the academy's three building tutors, learning all aspects of the building trade.
Pratt said at the end of the full-time year, the students are ready to go into the building trade.
"They are right up there with first year apprentices, as we get them involved in all aspects of the build, a lot of which new apprentices on a regular site would not get the chance to do. Because of this in-depth training, our employment placement rate is very high as builders and construction companies realise the skills these students have got."
According to the Ministry of Social Development's Social Housing Register, 1002 people were waiting to get into public housing in Northland at the end of March, an increase of 116 compared to the beginning of this year.