Housing New Zealand is being accused of arrogance over its decision to delay talking to residents living near a potential site for a state housing development until "contracts" are signed.

Puriri Park Rd residents in Maunu, Whangarei, are questioning the logic behind seeking public views after the land has been bought and housing plans drawn up and finalised.

Their reaction followed confirmation by HNZ this week it would only engage with Puriri Park Rd residents once, and if, "contracts" have been signed.

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HNZ clarified it was talking about land purchase contracts, after the Advocate contacted it.

Earlier, HNZ had declined to say what sort of contracts it was referring to.

Yesterday, HNZ said it was neither reasonable nor sensible to engage with people before land had been bought.

"If Housing New Zealand does purchase this land and when it begins plans to develop it, we will share these with all the relevant stakeholders, including nearby residents, iwi, local and central government, schools, health and social services and the general public," said HNZ general manager asset development Patrick Dougherty.

As well as receiving advice from local and central government agencies, he said HNZ would engage with others to hear feedback on who needed housing and where, whether it be for the elderly, young families or single people.

He said HNZ has had a long and extensive history of taking that approach with its developments.

HNZ is negotiating to buy 32,730sq m of land owned by the Ministry of Education that, at first glance, appears to be part of Puriri Park.

But the land is zoned residential — not as a reserve or park.

Residents opposed to the proposed development were unaware the land was residential until informed by the Advocate this week.

They thought it was zoned as a park or a reserve like the 22,000sq m of adjacent park land owned by the Whangarei District Council.

"Consulting us after signing contracts will be far too late.
"If I start a subdivision, I have to jump over enormous hoops to get approval," said Alyse Foster-Bell, who lives across the road from the park.

She said there was plenty of land to build state houses on such as the old PlaceMakers on Walton St, former Countdown building in Kensington and Jubilee Park on Tarewa Rd.

Her neighbour Shirley Neeley thought the land was designated as a park.

"What's the use of consulting us after papers have been signed? I think that stance is very arrogant, isn't it? It all sounds very unusual," she said.

Roy Walker, who lives about 500m away from the park on Kotuku St, also agrees.

"It's extreme arrogance and it's about them using their power to override the wishes of the people. I thought in this day and age, they'd be more receptive to meeting us first."

Chris Blair, who lives directly across the park, believes the deal to buy the land was already stitched up before the public learned about it.

Land Information New Zealand (Linz) is responsible for managing the ministry-owned land and it has to be disposed off under the Public Works Act.

As required, Linz has advised the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Housing New Zealand, Heritage New Zealand and the Department of Conservation of the
disposal.

Since HNZ and the council had no interest in buying the land, it was submitted to the Office of Treaty Settlements (OTS) to be offered for sale to an iwi.

When the land was being considered by OTS, HNZ expressed an interest in buying it for state houses.