Dozens of new State houses in a residential area in Whangārei are expected to be ready in a year's time following the start of infrastructure work.
Kāinga Ora contractors began work on a piece of green space on Puriri Park Rd in Maunu in January after sorting out soil that was contaminated with arsenic, lead, and zinc.
Their level exceeded the level permitted under the Resource Management (National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health) Regulations 2011.
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.
The contamination was discovered when Kāinga Ora undertook soil investigations as part of the initial construction work before a detailed site investigation was carried out by Geosciences Ltd.
Kāinga Ora then applied for and obtained resource consent from the Whangārei District Council early this year for decontamination of soil as part of the earthworks.
Work is under way on underground infrastructure and retaining walls.
The new houses are expected to be finished in a year's time.
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Kāinga Ora spokesman Iain Butler said a house, next to where the State houses are to be
built, has been demolished and some material salvaged.
The Puriri Park and Maunu Residents Society, which is opposed to the project, lodged an application with Heritage New Zealand in May last year for the house to be designated a heritage site.
The historical value of the house came to light from journal entries and photos provided by the Auckland-based grand-daughter of William Hector McBeath, presumably the first person to build on the site.
But Heritage New Zealand's area manager for Northland, Bill Edwards, said a series of reports concluded the house did not have a high enough heritage value to require protection.
Butler said the house contained asbestos, lead, and other materials.
He said the housing project was on schedule and any queries the public had around resource consents had been adequately answered by both Kāinga Ora and the Whangārei District Council.