Even the victims of Glen Innes' state housing transformation can see the logic behind it. Well, most of them.
In Fernwood Place, in GI's north-east corner, just two Housing NZ tenants remain in a street of 30 state and former state houses.
The area has been rebranded Wai O Taiki (for the bay on the Tamaki River it overlooks) and has appeared to be on the precipice of change since the first state house privatisation wave in the 1990s.
Remarkably, the ex-state homes on 800sqm sections have not made way for Mediterranean-style palaces positioned for the sea views.
Rather, they've been renovated - repainted, relined, opened up, kitchens modernised, rooms and decks added, sections landscaped - largely by first home buyers with kids living the Kiwi dream.The renovated houses sure show up the state's prolonged failure to reinvest in its vast but aging housing portfolio - a failure that somewhat explains the current Government's determination to sell-down the estate.
Fernwood is also notable for a powerful community spirit - its current mix of young and old, HNZ tenants and private owners seems a good advertisement for the mixed ownership, integrated community model HNZ is promoting for its "regeneration" programme in Tamaki (Glen Innes and Panmure), where it owns more than half the 5000 houses.
But a clash of values is looming: social values vs property values. HNZ has sold its remaining sites in Fernwood and is clearing the houses so a developer can cash in on the high-value land.
Those values have just gone through the roof - land values are up more than 60 per cent in the Auckland Council's three-year revaluation and capital values by nearly as much, making it inevitable that flash palaces will squeeze in alongside the ex-states.
That's a bonus for developer Creating Communities but was linked to a larger redevelopment the property consortium is undertaking for HNZ off Apirana Ave, near the Glen Innes town centre.
In a city desperate for housing, the principles behind the northern Glen Innes project sounded fine back in 2011: remove outdated state houses from large sections to make way for more - and better - houses; and introduce a greater mix of owners and housing types so the "have nots" are not all lumped in one part of town and the "haves" in another.
But the process means relocating many tenants who've lived a lifetime in these houses, many elderly and disabled.
And the numbers didn't stack up for those who believe the Crown should remain the main provider of social housing stock.
While 260 new homes were to be built in the two zones, only 78 would be owned by Housing NZ. The remaining 180 would be private, with 39 tagged as "affordable" homes.
CEO Glen Sowry admitted in this month's Metro magazine that the Creating Communities contract he inherited was flawed.
"Anyone could do the arithmetic and see the number of HNZ houses was halving. Not surprisingly, the community said "There are fewer state houses for us to live in - what are you doing?"
Comments since the election by new HNZ Minister Bill English have further angered opponents. HNZ has maintained that proceeds from property sales will be reinvested in social housing, including in Tamaki. But English has suggested that HNZ should not only ease out of ownership but some proceeds could go to the Government's coffers.
In Glen Innes, this adds up to more anxiety for tenants, while owners of ex-state houses in Wai O Taiki wonder when the vacant lots will be filled - and with what.
At No. 20 Fernwood, Shannon, her partner and five children have lived for two years in one of only two HNZ homes still in use.
"Half of me loves it here but half of me is insecure," Shannon says.
"We could get told tomorrow we are moving out. It could mean a change of school, change of jobs, anything.
"Nobody knows what's happening to the empty houses and empty lots. Housing NZ doesn't tell you anything unless you are behind in your rent." The family moved here from a run-down HNZ home in Glen Innes where one of her boys had developed asthma and skin problems.
"Where we used to live there were people drinking and smoking drugs. We came here and there are good role models. "It's the best street I've lived in. Everyone knows each other.
The kids are quite safe and there's good-sized sections. The backyard is big enough for them to play rugby and touch and bullrush.
"We don't earn enough to send the kids to camp, so the boys get out and mow [neighbours'] lawns or do gardening. I'm the babysitter for the street." Across the gully in Lyndhurst St, a higher proportion of homes escaped the 1990s privatisation wave. After one side of the street was included in the deal with Creating Communities, fierce protests greeted the first house clearances. Tensions have eased as remaining tenants grow resigned to their fate.
The street runs parallel to the water and most of the big sections, with squat houses in the middle, have sea views.
"I can get up on the roof and see Musick Pt one way and just about down to Panmure wharf the other," says Ross, who has lived here for 30 years.
"I don't blame them; I can see why they are doing it."
Ross and partner Annette live on a subdivided section, across the road from the sites sold to Creating Communities, and are safe for now. But all Wai O Taiki tenants know their land is in demand. "They can go up to get the views if we get one of the units," Annette says. "I don't want to go down to the ghetto [Glen Innes]."
Michael and Moepai Temata have spent 50 years in their home. Photo / Doug Sherring
On the corner, Michael and Moepai Temata have been warned they will have to move, but have yet to be given notice. The couple have spent 50 years in their home, raising five children and planting fruit trees on the undeveloped section out the back.
"I would have bought the house but I put the children through university," Michael Temata says.
The retired driver lost his legs to diabetes in 2006 and the couple protested publicly when HNZ suggested they move to the upper level of a two-storey complex in Panmure.
"We are waiting our turn," Moepai Temata says. "They are just getting rid of state houses. They are just going to build their mansions."
Others have been happy to move, their former neighbours say.
"The people next door could see what was coming and moved voluntarily," says one mother of three, who asked not to be named.
"It's been good for them - they've both got jobs and they are living legitimately. A couple of others have gone to Australia and are doing well."
An HNZ survey of 48 of the 100 tenants moved so far found three-quarters were "much happier" in their new houses.
Creating Communities director Murdoch Dryden says HNZ believes tenants will be better off closer to the town centre for jobs, public transport, community services and shopping.
But around the corner in Taniwha St, implacable opposition remains. Heart patient Ioela (Nicky) Rauti has warded off one attempt to move her and has gone to the Tenancy Tribunal to seek a second stay of execution.
"People are sleeping in cars and they are destroying solid houses," Rauti says. "How they are treating our older people - it's not right. Housing NZ is more for the developers than the tenants."
Her house remains a focal point for protest but is surrounded by cleared sites which could be merged for intensive development. "They are most probably going to put up mansions here because of the lovely view. I can see across to Half Moon Bay out my kitchen window."
Just down the road, a multi-unit complex of 11 houses is rising where two state houses stood in a project for the Tamaki Redevelopment Company.
All will be HNZ owned, with tenants coming from a wall-to-wall state housing estate in nearby Fenchurch St, allowing redevelopment work there to begin.
Across at Apirana, Creating Communities is about to finish its 34th house.
Within six months another 100 houses will be under construction and Dryden says work should begin at Wai O Taiki within 12 months.
An Auckland development is seen as leading the way for national reforms
David Zussman, Monte Cecilia executive, says even families who are rated priority A can't get a house. Photo / File
The Tamaki redevelopment is the model for a radical nationwide reform that will reshape housing for our most needy families.
In northern Glen Innes, developers are building 78 new state homes and about 180 privately-owned homes, replacing 156 state houses. Thirty-nine of the private homes are tagged as "affordable" housing.
Across Auckland, Housing NZ told its new minister, Bill English, in a briefing paper released this week, that it has space for up to 39,000 additional homes - also expected to be a mix of private and social housing - on land where it now has 30,755 state houses.
There is a desperate shortage of affordable housing for low-income people in our two biggest cities - in Auckland because of population growth while both incomes and home-building have been hit by the recession, and in Christchurch because of the earthquakes.
At Monte Cecilia House in Mangere, social workers say they can't get state houses even for homeless families with children in vans or sleeping in the floor in one-family-to-a-room boarding-houses, unless a child is at risk of rheumatic fever which gets them on a "fast-track".
Monte Cecilia executive David Zussman says even families who are rated priority A, which means "immediate need for action", can't get a house. One family was in an emergency house for 11 months.
Nationally, 2810 families are priority A. Apart from Auckland, there were 353 in the Christchurch area, but in Wanganui and 31 of the other 59 districts where Housing NZ operates the priority A numbers were zero or negligible. English says he is selling state houses because there are "too many state houses where there is low or no demand so they are excess to need", because many houses are not the right sizes, and because "we want to sell some houses to use the proceeds to develop community housing providers."
Since April, new tenants in homes run by community trusts have been able to get the income-related rental subsidy, which was previously paid only to Housing NZ to let tenants pay rent at only 25 per cent of their incomes.
Trusts have taken on few new tenants so far, but by November 5 taxpayers were paying the subsidy - the difference between market rents and 25 per cent of the tenants' incomes - to 11 trusts for 78 tenants.
Since the election, English has suggested that the trusts could expand faster by renting homes from private landlords and sub-letting to tenants who qualify for the subsidy. Two trusts have started doing that with district health board funding to support the tenants.
English envisages trusts "offering those tenants a house and the social support they are eligible for, with both the support and the house subsidised by the Government".
Selling some state houses to the trusts, probably in consortiums with private developers, is another way to help them expand faster.
But the trusts say they can't afford to pay full market prices, especially in Auckland.
Prime Minister John Key has conceded that "they'll have to get a discount", perhaps in return for keeping specified numbers in social housing.
Treasury is due to report to ministers next month on a planned Independent Transactions Unit to manage the sales.