About 30 very wet state house tenants braved driving rain this morning to march against planned sales of state housing.
Carrying banners saying "We will not be moved" and "House the needy not the greedy", the group marched through the Panmure shops and are now walking to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company office in Glen Innes.
Four police officers protected the offices of the Tamaki Redevelopment Company when the protesters arrived.
Leaders addressed the group peacefully on the footpath.
Niki Rauti, 60, a hero of the group because she challenged an eviction notice from Housing NZ and has been allowed to stay for now, said the Government was secretly planning to sell its shares in the redevelopment company.
Mrs Rangimarie Matia, who is in her eighties and has lived in Tobruk Rd in Panmure for 60 years, said she was "right in the firing line" of the company's plan to redevelop the street and adjoining Sommerville Special School grounds for a mix of social and private housing.
Another Panmure tenant, a solo father of two who gave his name as John, said all state tenants in the area felt "under threat".
"I think a lot of it is the Government actually wants the area because the area is sort of a gem in Auckland. It's close to everywhere, you've got the water," he said.
"They propose that when they move all the people out, quite a lot of what they had will be sold privately."
The march coincides with the closing of submissions yesterday [Oct 1] on the Social Housing Reform (Transaction Mandate) Bill, which would give Housing NZ Minister Bill English the power to sell Housing NZ's property.
The bill would also give Mr English powers to "grant an interest in assets of the Corporation or subsidiary" - a clause the protesters say could allow him to privatise the Tamaki Redevelopment Company, which is in the process of taking over all 2800 state houses in the Tamaki area from Housing NZ.
The company is jointly owned by the Government (59 per cent) and Auckland Council (41 per cent) and is acquiring the Tamaki state houses worth about $1.2 billion for free on the basis that they are only being transferred from one state agency to another.
But the protesters said in a statement: "While the shares are currently held publicly, state tenants fear that these shares will be placed on the private market and the transferring of these homes will lead to increased eviction and displacement".
Veteran protester Sue Henry pointed to the bill's explanatory note which says that Mr English's new powers would include "the power to hold and dispose of shares in a company formed to erect flats".
"We heard that they are planning to sell the shares in the Tamaki Redevelopment Company," she said.
A spokesman for Mr English said there was no basis to this assertion.
"The Tamaki Redevelopment Company is 100 per cent publicly owned by the Crown and Auckland Council. I don't know of any intention for the Crown to dilute its shareholding," the spokesman said.
He said the clause in the bill giving Mr English powers to "dispose of shares in a company" was aimed at providing flexibility around the Government's current plans to sell or lease 1250 state houses in Tauranga and 370 in Invercargill, and potentially a further 1000 to 2000 a year in other parts of the country over the next few years.
"The legislation is about the potential approach in Invercargill and Tauranga in particular, and potentially others later, not this Glen Innes stuff. That's different," he said.
But the Government has asked the Tamaki Redevelopment Company to bring in private partners to redevelop the area much more intensively, building about 7500 new homes to replace the existing 2800 state houses over the next 10 to 15 years. Mr English said in April that a majority of the new homes would be sold to private owners but "there will be at least as many social houses in Tamaki as the 2800 there now".
Four police officers protected the offices of the Tamaki Redevelopment Company when the protesters arrived. Leaders addressed the group peacefully on the footpath.