Housing Minister Phil Twyford says a new housing development that will see three to four thousand new-builds pop up on Unitec land will tackle Auckland's housing crisis head on.

Twyford and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were welcomed onto Unitec's Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae this morning to deliver the announcement.

The development was the first major plan released under the Government's KiwiBuild programme.

Unitec is condensing its campus and 29ha of its land will be transferred from Unitec to the Crown.

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Ardern said the development would also include new parks, shops and potentially a new school.

The development would also be host to between 3000 and 4000 new homes - a mix of affordable Kiwibuild homes for first-home buyers and open housing.

A plan for the future Mt Albert housing development that will be built on land currently occupied by Unitec. Photo / Unitec
A plan for the future Mt Albert housing development that will be built on land currently occupied by Unitec. Photo / Unitec

Building would likely begin next year, though there were no solid timelines to indicate when the first homes could be complete.

"It is about rebuilding homes, but it's also about rebuilding communities," Ardern said.

Co-chair of the Mt Albert Residents Association Harold Marshalls said it could create congestion issues for locals and further concerns had initially sprouted from Aucklanders who run a community garden on Unitec grounds.

The Mahi Whenua Sanctuary Gardens, a traditional Māori garden which provides food for dozens of members and their families, had been advised the land on which the Sanctuary sits is to be sold.

According to a petition started by the team at Mahi Whenua Sanctuary Garden on change.org the Wairaka Land Company, a subsidiary of Unitec, had initially advised the Sanctuary had to be vacated by May 1.

The petition had attracted almost 6,500 signatures.

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However, speaking to the Herald from Cambodia where he was currently travelling, committee member Trevor Crosby said the team had been assured on Sunday that the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua gardens and food forest would remain in any future development.

"The continuance of the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua has been as a result of fruitful discussions between Unitec and the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua," Crosby said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the announcement of the development, at Unitec Campus on Sunday. Photo / Greg Bowker
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the announcement of the development, at Unitec Campus on Sunday. Photo / Greg Bowker

Twyford said today's announcement was the "end of the beginning".

"We're going to build our way out of the housing crisis."

The plan included a "rich mix" of the kinds of housing that people need at prices they can afford, Twyford said.

"We're also going to build state housing in this project, because our philosophy is that if the Government doesn't build affordable developments like this, then who will?"

Twyford said the iwi of the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau collective had been closely involved with planning for the development, which was consistent with the agreements in their treaty settlement.

Unitec's Mt Albert campus would be condensed and facilities from around 20 or 30 separate buildings shifted into the central part of the institute.

Alastair Carruthers, chief executive of Unitec, described the announcement as a "midpoint" in a transition that had been going on for some years.

He said the development would be a "win-win" because the money gained from the "surplus land" sold to the Crown would be put back into rebuilding the campus.

Auckland's Mayor Phil Goff threw his weight behind the project - which he said would help clear a "backlog of work" that needed to be done.

"We need a transformational programme to tackle the increasing unaffordability of home ownership for many Aucklanders as well as soaring rents and growing homelessness," he said.

Speaking at Unitec's Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae, Goff was enthusiastic about the project, but a bit hoarse.

"I was trying to sing along with Ed Sheeran last night, so unfortunately my voice is a little strained," he explained.