A Māngere mother of two says there is excitement in the south Auckland suburb for light rail, but it is "really unfair" to charge residents $1000 a year for the privilege.
Jo Latif has lived in Māngere for 11 years. She is the communications manager for Māngere College, editor of 275times, a digital fale for people to share in the goings-on and successes of the community; and member of a community housing group.
She says the opportunities light rail provides for revitalising the town centre, businesses and better public transport connections to the rest of Auckland is exciting.
Some people, she says, are concerned about the disruption during construction, but if done well it will be great for the community.
"The rail link needs to be done very sensitively in Māngere. Our community is going through a tumultuous time already with the huge Kainga Ora housing development, looming gentrification, rising housing prices and the growing divide caused by Covid-19," she said.
Asked about a possible $1000 charge on Māngere households to help pay for light rail, Latif said it was "really unfair" and would add stress to her own family budget.
"I can see [a charge for] businesses, new businesses or developers being accepted, but for residents who have been here and settled I don't see that as being fair.
"When house prices are increasing, that is going to force more people out and create a further divide and more gentrification," said Latif.
Māngere Town Centre manager Dave Fearon said the south Auckland suburb has the lowest income bracket in Auckland and additional costs will impact on people.
He said the community liked the idea of light rail, saying Māngere was stuck on a spur of land and the ability to move around was very limited and took a long time.
"The ability to just pop to Onehunga, the city or the airport makes a lot of sense. They are talking about every five minutes to catch a train wherever you want to go, that sounds pretty good to me," said Fearon, adding the area is forecast to grow by 30,000 or 40,000 people in the next 10-15 years.