The new state houses being provided in Whanganui will be modern, warm and secure, Housing New Zealand deputy chief executive Greg Groufsky says.

There are seven two-bedroom units planned for a large empty section in Gonville's Poynter Pl. They should be ready for tenants by the middle of the year.

Another two are to be built on back sections in Grey St, later.

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There are plenty of people who want the houses. In the latest Ministry of Social Development housing register, in December, there were 64 requests for housing in Whanganui. Of those, 52 were from "at risk" people who needed immediate help.

Housing New Zealand is building 155 houses across regional New Zealand - the most new state housing to be provided outside main centres in decades, Mr Groufsky said.

The houses in Whanganui will be two-bedroom, because that is the size most often needed. They add to 560 state houses already in the district.

They will be built on vacant land, which Mr Groufsky said used Housing New Zealand (HNZ) resources efficiently and speeded up the building process.

Neighbouring cities are getting new state houses too - for New Plymouth six, and for Palmerston North 11.

HNZ also aims to have 14 transitional houses in Whanganui. They will be provided for shorter periods, with other kinds of help supplied at the same time by contractors.

In Whanganui the contractors are The Salvation Army New Zealand Trust, which will soon have seven houses, and Women's Refuge, which has about four so far.