Abuse and noise complaints marred the first few months of Papamoa's Opal Drive emergency housing village, but residents and managers are positive about its future.

A resident says she loves living there and the negativity she experienced early in her tenancy - including strangers yelling "you're not welcome here" and "f*** off" from passing cars - has died off.

The final 10 homes in Kāinga Atawhai village were opened and blessed by Nga Potiki kaumatua Pahu Akuhata on Monday in preparation for the arrival of their first tenants.

Paul Wollaston, acting general manager of Tauranga Community Housing Trust, which runs the village, said new families would start moving in on Wednesday.


The village, on land leased from Tauranga City Council, has 19 two- and three-bedroom furnished standalone homes.

More families have moved into emergency housing at Opal Drive. Photo/ George Novak
More families have moved into emergency housing at Opal Drive. Photo/ George Novak

The pre-made homes were delivered to the site in November and the first eight families, plus a custodian moved in the following month.

Tenants were expected to stay for three months initially but can move out earlier if they find a rental or apply for an extension under certain criteria, Wollaston said.

He said village's first few months had gone pretty well, apart from a couple of police visits and some complaints from neighbours about excessive noise or tenants leaving toys and washing in their front yards.

"The village is subject to a higher level of scrutiny than what you would normally expect as it is a showpiece," Wollaston said.

"We have fielded noise complaints where it has turned out the noise has actually been coming from across the road. There is an assumption that this site is causing all the disturbance and it's not always the case."

The trust had banned tenants from having visitors after 8pm in an effort to keep late-night noise down.

Wollaston said they were also working to help tenants get to know each other and their neighbours to grow the sense of community in the village.


The trust would host a barbeque for tenants, neighbours and some of the community groups that had supported the project on March 17 at nearby Topaz Drive Reserve.

Trust chairwoman Jo Gravit said the project had been "challenging" but showed that collaboration between local (Tauranga City Council) and central (Ministry of Social Development) government, community groups and the building sector could make a real difference.

Kāinga Atawhai village in Opal Drive

• 19 standalone houses
•9 opened in December
•10 open this week
•10 three-bedrooms
• 9 two-bedrooms

Source: Tauranga Community Housing Trust

Families settle in as backlash dies down

Pohutukawa Kahuroa feels lucky to have been chosen to live in the Opal Drive village. Photo/ George Novak
Pohutukawa Kahuroa feels lucky to have been chosen to live in the Opal Drive village. Photo/ George Novak

Village resident Pohutukawa Kahuroa said she and her grandchildren, aged 4 and 5, moved in two days before Christmas.


"We love it here," she said. "When we found out we were one of the lucky chosen ones, me and my two mokopuna were on top of the world."

She said there had been some negativity when they first moved in, including complaints about noise and kids' bikes being left untidily on a lawn fronting Opal Drive.

Kahuroa said she had also heard people in cars yell abuse as they passed.

Her message to those people was: "You could end up in this situation one day."

Kahuroa said she never expected to need emergency housing, but when her mokopuna come to live with her nine months ago she knew she could not continue moving around New Zealand between orchard jobs.

But she struggled to find a rental and ended up living in a motel.


Living in the village had helped the kids gain confidence and make new friends.

She had praise for the trust staff who had connected her to support services.

Kahuroa said she had started looking for a permanent rental but said it was hard going.

"I'm looking but so are 50 other people."