One evening back in the time of meetings, at the start of this month, about 60 people crammed into the Beach Haven Community House on the North Shore. They were there to hear officials from the housing agency Kainga Ora explain the new projects in their area and they were angry.
The room was too small, with people spilling out the doors, the night was hot, and tempers were barely under control.
Some of the locals were sympathetic to Kainga Ora but upset about design elements. Several said they weren't opposed to social housing, and then had a big "but". A few were straight-out racist.
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Almost all were dismayed at a large cluster of three-storey apartment blocks being built on Beach Haven Rd.
The officials were also sympathetic, with promises to get back to the group with more information. But, strangely, they had little to say. Their attempts at explanation were half-hearted and the slides they showed were inadequate. They seemed burnt out.
It didn't go well, and it's probably easier if I leave everyone's names out of it.
"We're building at pace and scale," said one of the officials, echoing former housing minister Phil Twyford's mantra. "We're housing New Zealanders who are less fortunate than we are."
They build quite a lot of single bedroom units, but currently they're reassessing the need: the larger demand is for "two beddies" and "four beddies".
"I know it's scary," she said. But, she assured them, in time it won't be. She put up a slide of the three-storey blocks under construction at 183-197 Beach Haven Rd.
Unadorned concrete facades, no balconies in sight, or so it seemed, no visual relief. The room groaned. The official said that wasn't fair, they won't look like this really. The calls came back: "Yes they will, they look like that now. Those tilt-slab concrete panels are already in place."
"Where will the children play?" asked one particularly angry woman. "What about the trees? How much sun will there be. Will people be able to sit outside?"
Of course, said the official. She talked about planter boxes and fruit trees: feijoas, lemons, grapefruit. "We'll send you the plans. They can go on the Facebook page."
The other official talked about the "big communal green space".
"Are there lifts?" asked someone. The answer was no.
"So how will a mother manage with a pushchair, a toddler and shopping, trying to get up to the third floor?"
Others asked about a community room and an onsite manager. The officials were not sure if either was being provided.
Everyone complained about a lack of consultation. The second official said, "We did talk to the neighbours."
"No you didn't," and, "You told us only two weeks before. That's not consultation."
The first official said, "We were here two and a half, three years ago."
"Yes," responded someone, "but you're not building what you talked about then."
Liaison with schools came up. "I work closely with the schools," said the first official.
Stephanie Thompson, principal of the local primary school, stepped forward. "That's not true," she said. "You've had one meeting with us."
The official said there would be another soon.
Someone said, "You're putting in more people, the roads can't handle it, the parks can't handle it and the value of the land is going down."
The official said, "We don't find the value of the land goes down." Then she said, "Look, is it okay for New Zealanders to be homeless?"
That sounded like emotional blackmail and the mood in the meeting ramped up to outrage.
But how bad will those apartments be? A closer look at the designs suggests they are better than many residents claimed but also not as good as the officials seemed to think.
Balconies are important and every apartment has one. They're cut into the shape of the building, rather than attached to the facade, and they're generous, sheltered and, in most cases, sunny. Big tick for that.
There is a community room but, oddly, it has not yet been decided if a manager will live on-site. Overall, the buildings are a bit blank and boxy, but the units will be warm, dry homes for their occupants.
There are two green communal areas, suitable for people to sit and socialise. They're visible from most units, too. But they won't be good for kids to play in because, incredibly, they're not fenced off. One opens directly onto a car park at one end and Beach Haven Rd, which is a busy arterial, at the other. The other is also fully open to the car park.
That's easily fixable with a fence, but it's bad planning and it makes you think, what other corners did they cut?
There's another issue with those green commons: they're too small. Kids won't be able to kick a ball there, or play a pick-up game of softball or cricket. Perhaps the answer is that they can go to the park, 350 metres away. But that's no good for kids too small to be independent. For suburban apartment blocks to work, understanding that is vital.
The meeting had other issues. There's a kindergarten next to the project and several people thought having the units overlook the play area was an invitation to paedophiles.
"We're extremely conscious of the potential threat," said one of the officials. "We work with the probation officers."
"Have you done a crime-risk assessment of the tenants?" asked someone.
These questions frustrated the officials. They get them all the time. "We have an intensive tenancy management team and wraparound services are provided when needed," said one.
"Will it be mixed races?" asked one woman. "Or," and she paused, "or, bloody hell, I'll just say it, will it be all Islanders?"
"It's an issue with gangs," said someone else. "Do you do background checks?"
One of the officials said, "I think you should be very careful where you're heading with these questions."
The other said, "You seem to think we have all the criminals. We don't. We don't have all the people with mental health problems, either. These are much wider community issues."
Somebody else, supporting the officials, pointed out: "Making bad people homeless is the best way to make them criminals."
"Look," said the first official, "I grew up in a state house, I know how important all this is. We'll come back in a month or two. We'll keep the discussion open."
Beach Haven has always been a state-house suburb. It has buses, a ferry service and good parks. The new projects should benefit the suburb: more people will mean better public transport, for example.
But will they? You can do it cheap, fast or good: any two but not all three. That's the received wisdom. And that's what "pace and scale" comes down to. Good got left behind.
But isn't good the most important of the three? What's the point of solving a housing supply crisis if you risk creating a housing slum crisis?
If we're looking for silver linings in the Covid-19 lockdown, this can be one of them: Kainga Ora has the chance to step back and review its approach: to aim higher and to rethink the consultation.
The locals can step up too. As the meeting ended, a woman who had helped organise it got up. "We know we need to welcome these people into our community," she said. "That's what will help with crime, with everything. Making them part of the community."
She was applauded. But not by everyone.