Eight families in need have started moving into brand new houses in Opal Dr in Papamoa.

There are five two-bedroom and four three-bedroom houses completed so far as part of the pop-up emergency housing village. The Bay of Plenty Times got a sneak peek of the homes and village this week.

The ninth house will be for a custodian who will live on site.

The weatherboard units are tidy, modest and functional.


With the living area and bedrooms carpeted, plenty of windows, and a ranch-slider leading out to a small wooden deck – the properties are modern and practical.

The compact kitchens come fully furnished with an oven and a fridge and the bathrooms have a shower and a bath.

The houses are comfortable, with no frills.

The last of the instant lawn was being laid down on Monday and the houses had been blessed by local iwi Ngā Potiki.

The village had been named Kāinga Atawhai, which means "a place of warmth, love, security, caring, kindness and nuturing".

The Tauranga Community Housing Trust will manage the properties, look after the tenancies, and provide social support services to the people living there.

Chris Johnstone, the manager of the trust, said the families were referred by the Ministry of Social Development after being deemed to have a serious housing need.

The trust also did its own checks and interviews.


Moving in before Christmas meant a lot to the new tenants, Johnstone said.

"Some of them are in motels or various solutions at the moment that aren't suitable, so to be in a home by Christmas will be, I imagine, a highlight of their year."

The furniture was arriving on Monday and some was already in place – couches wrapped in plastic – when the Bay of Plenty Times had a look around.

Johnstone said about 60 residents from the area attended an open evening last week and the feedback was positive.

"We had lots of offers of assistance and food packs and other sorts of welcoming gestures. It was amazing, actually.

"We acknowledge that there was some resistance and concern and I think that a lot of that was addressed by Housing New Zealand," Johnstone said.

She said a residents group and local churches had since got behind the concept and project.

"So that made quite a difference."

There is a mix of families and family make-ups moving into the village. Most have children, with a range of ages from preschool up.

The families will live in the houses for a minimum of three months, Johnstone said.

She was hesitant to give a general timeline, however.

"I think it will take as long as it takes to find them the right property to move on to.

"Really I want it to be seen as a well-planned and appropriate move, rather than churning. But, certainly, we will be looking to create a very settled environment here for the period of time that they're here."

Mike Bryant, from the Ministry of Social Development, and Chris Johnstone, manager of the Tauranga Community Housing Trust at the new Opal Dr emergency housing village in Papamoa. Photo / George Novak.
Mike Bryant, from the Ministry of Social Development, and Chris Johnstone, manager of the Tauranga Community Housing Trust at the new Opal Dr emergency housing village in Papamoa. Photo / George Novak.

Mike Bryant, the ministry's regional commissioner for social development, said it was good to hear people from the local community say they were supportive of the concept.

In Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty there are already 1335 public housing places and the new village was "just a nice compliment to that", he said.

Bryant said in theory, there could be 72 families moving through the village in a 12-month period.

"They clearly have to have somewhere more permanent to go that they can actually make into their permanent home."

The rest of the families were expected to move in by the end of February, with the allocation process to start again next month.

Another 10 houses were to be completed and construction work is ongoing.

As well as the custodian, there will be other staff working on site – two housing services workers and a tenancy manager.

Johnstone said the Tauranga Community Housing Trust follows the Residential Tenancies Act and so the families would have to follow the same guidelines as any other tenant and will have the same rights and responsibilities as well.

The new 19-unit Opal Drive emergency housing village
• A mix of two- and three-bedroom homes
• The houses are factory-built offsite and are relocatable and fully insulated
• The houses have thermal drapes and the windows have double glazing
• The village has communal areas and fenced off sections
• There is landscaping and open grass areas
Source: Housing New Zealand