The news that KiwiBuild has put down roots in Whangārei coincides with 10 houses in the scheme going on the market.

Three are fully completed and seven still under construction in the new Kotātā Heights subdivision on the flank of Morningside.

It is expected all the houses in the Government's affordable house-buying scheme will be finished in June.

The first three off the block will be open for inspection on Sunday afternoon.


''This is big news, it's a big deal,'' said Gregg Marsland, from Ray White, which has been commissioned to sell all 10 houses.

The vision of KiwiBuild and the company behind the Kotātā Heights development was for an integrated community of houses, with appeal to people in different stages of home acquisition, Marsland said.

As is the KiwiBuild way, all 10 homes will have a set price, below the Whangārei average and cheaper than private builds in the same mushrooming subdivision.

''These are very good value houses and they are for sale below the average price in Whangārei. This is an opportunity for first-home buyers,'' Marsland said.

The houses are priced at $460,000 for two-bedrooms and $500,000 for three-bedrooms for buyers who meet certain criteria, including having a relatively high $180,000 income ceiling for families and $120,000 for a single person.

The average house price — the median — for Whangārei in February was $561,000.

With house prices rising 10 per cent in the past year, Whangārei has experienced one of the fastest rates of increase in the country and the city's population is estimated to be growing by nearly 2000 people a year.

Head of KiwiBuild Delivery Helen O'Sullivan said Whangārei had been identified as needing affordable homes and KiwiBuild worked with private developers on the builds.


"Kotātā Heights provides a high-quality, centrally located, and affordable option for local first-time buyers, and people who are considering moving to Whangārei for the lifestyle,'' O'Sullivan said.

"The Government aligned the caps for HomeStart grants with KiwiBuild price caps in December, meaning that KiwiBuild buyers may be eligible for up to $20,000 towards their deposit.''

Unlike in other areas of New Zealand, the Whangārei homes will not be for sale by ballot, only by direct sale. People will need to register their interest and complete some pre-purchase qualifying processes.

KiwiBuild has a number of ways of getting houses on the ground, including buying Crown or private land and on-selling it to developers or iwi to build quality, affordable new homes.

Kotātā Heights is a ''buying off the plans development'' where KiwiBuild, on behalf of the Crown, bought home and land packages outright from the subdivision developer who had subcontracted the construction to ''build partners'', a spokeswoman said.

Tony and Claire Davies-Colley, directors of BDX Group and BDX Ltd, are behind the Kotātā Heights development.

BDX submitted a KiwiBuild proposal in June 2018 and commercial terms were agreed in September 2018, the spokeswoman said. KiwiBuild is now extending an invitation to further develop this site, she said.

KiwiBuild would not disclose the prices it paid for the homes, citing commercial sensitivity.

All 10 houses planned for Kotātā Heights are mainly brick and tile, three with two bedrooms and seven with three bedrooms, some with en suites and some with dual access to the bathroom.

''Each home is going to have different specifications and appearances. You won't be able to tell them apart from the privately built houses around them,'' Ray White agent Lisa Gray said.

Jennian Homes built the first three available and the others are being built by Generation, Signature and Classic Builders.

The Government also plans to build more state houses in Whangārei, including a controversial proposal to build 39 on former park land in Puriri Park Rd, a project much opposed by local residents.

In February, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford opened 11 new state units in Woodhill.

Figures released last month by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development show 445 people were on the public housing register in Northland in the December quarter last year - an increase of 117 per cent compared with 191 people at the end of 2017.

The hike in Northland was higher than the national figure of 73 per cent.

More than 10,700 people were on the waiting list throughout New Zealand at the end of December 2018.

In Northland, 224 people were on the register in Whangārei, 184 in the Far North, and 37 in Kaipara at the end of December 2018.

Statistics show 77 people who were already in public housing in Northland at the end of last year had requested and were eligible for a transfer to another property.

Over the same period, the Ministry of Social Development paid $221,174 in emergency housing special needs grants for short-term accommodation in places such as motels to those who were unable to access the Government's contracted transitional housing places in Northland.

The amount supported 98 families which was a decrease from 119 compared with the September quarter.