When tenants move into a state house, they should be in no doubt that this is a temporary arrangement. They should move on when their need no longer exists or may be moved on if the state, as landlord, sees a way to put their house to better use.

Under no circumstances should they be under the impression that this, by right, is a house for life.

That, however, appears to be the expectation of a large group of Housing New Zealand tenants in Wai o Taiki Bay, overlooking the Tamaki estuary, who are vowing to defy plans to shift them out of their homes.

Housing NZ, quite reasonably and as is its right, wants to sell the block of high-value properties to private developers, so that it can fund new state houses elsewhere.

Advertisement

One of the tenants says she and her husband have lived in their house for 47 years and reared five children there. "I want to stay in my house," she says. The reference to the house as her own is instructive. So, too, is the likelihood that she and her husband are occupying a property that should have been housing a family with several children.

Housing NZ also has obligations, of course. It has satisfied these by providing sufficient notice and assuring all the Wai o Taiki Bay tenants that they will be offered other state houses, which will be modified for those with disabilities.

There can be nothing cruel in shifting these people when the intention is to benefit more of those requiring a state house.