Almost 300 Auckland state house tenants - many of them elderly or in wheelchairs - cheered last night as speakers at a public meeting vowed to defy Housing New Zealand plans to clear them out of their homes for redevelopment.
Moepai Temata, 68, whose 69-year-old husband, Michael, had both legs amputated because of diabetes in 2005, drew the loudest cheers as she held up a sign saying, "We will not be moved."
The couple are among 45 Housing NZ tenants in Wai o Taiki Bay, overlooking the Tamaki Estuary east of Glen Innes, who will have to leave their houses because the block of high-value properties will be sold to private developers to fund new state houses elsewhere.
A further 111 tenants in Glen Innes itself, between Apirana Ave and West Tamaki Rd, will also have to leave to make way for more intensive redevelopment, but Housing NZ will keep 118 new and renovated homes in that area.
Housing NZ project manager Graham Bodman said some land in the Glen Innes block would also be sold to private buyers and non-profit housing providers. The aim is to reduce Housing NZ homes across the two redevelopment blocks from 57 per cent to 53 per cent over the next five years.
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and six other MPs heard tenants who packed into the Grace International Church speak emotionally about how they would be affected.
Mrs Temata said she and her husband had lived in their house for 47 years and brought up their five children there.
"I want to stay in my house," she told the MPs who listened on the stage. The house was modified for the couple after Mr Temata's legs were amputated.
"But I suppose at the end of the day you will say, 'No, you can't, get out of the beautiful view looking out to Half Moon Bay, it's just breathtaking and you can't afford to live in it'."
Miimetua Tarapu, 66, who has lived in the Glen Innes block for 14 years, said her 76-year-old husband needed dialysis four times a day but Housing NZ had tried to move the couple into a two-storey unit in Panmure which was not suitable.
"We had a march in town. I went on it and I told my husband about it," she said.
"That night he had a minor heart attack. I said to myself, 'I shouldn't have told him this.' But he needed to know."
Housing NZ is evaluating five bids from private consortiums to partner with it in the redevelopment.
Mr Bodman said all affected tenants would be offered other state houses which would be modified for those with disabilities.