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Flagship development signals a fresh approach for state housing

13 July 2018

He pukenga wai, he nōhanga tāngata; he nōhanga tāngata, he putanga kōrero

Building lives and communities by housing New Zealanders

These words in Te Reo Maori and English are at the heart of what Housing New Zealand is all about.

Those words are, in fact, our new vision which I’m proud to say we adopted late last year.

They drive the people of Housing New Zealand in everything we do – helping the most vulnerable in our communities sustain their tenancies and leading out the biggest investment programme in state housing in decades to ensure our tenants and their families are housed in warm, dry and safe homes so that they have the opportunity to live safer and more healthy lives.

More than half our homes were built more than 40 years ago and a further 26% are over 60 years old. Many of those homes have served their purpose and must now be replaced, or be part of our major refurbishment programme.

Housing New Zealand needs to continue to adapt and meet the changing and often complex and challenging needs of our tenants. The traditional idea of state housing, a three bedroom home on a large section is not a suitable home for many of our elderly and single person households.

That’s why I’m proud and excited to see this fresh approach being undertaken in one of our more well-known properties in central Auckland.

Greys AvenueThe 87-unit property at 139 Greys Avenue was built 61 years ago and is nearing the end of its economic life.

The Board of Housing New Zealand, which I chair, was made aware more than four years ago that Greys Ave was nearing the end of its economic life and we embarked on a review to determine whether we should remain in the central city of Auckland and, if so, whether in the existing older building or a new fit for purpose building.

After careful consideration, the Board reached the view that state housing tenants are and should remain members of the inner city Auckland community. The opportunity to stay on the site, which in association with the “modern purpose built state housing flats” downhill of the apartment tower, enjoy good access to a range of existing social and community services.

Over the 60 years since Greys Avenue was built, the nature and number of tenants for whom a much specialised central city state housing development would serve has significantly increased. With redevelopment the opportunity under the Unitary Plan allows for a much higher number of apartments. A redevelopment also allows for a whole new approach to state housing tenants with complex needs.

This represents a significant and positive opportunity for our staff and support agencies to provide a targeted and comprehensive package of support for our tenants.

We are working together with social housing experts and support service providers to design and build a new type of facility with wrap-around services that will enable a mix of tenants to live in a community that provides a fresh approach to inner city living.

The current Greys Ave building simply cannot be modified or changed to enable us to provide the quality and diversity of services we need to offer our tenants.

Our role is to support our tenants to sustain their tenancies and live with dignity for the duration of their need.

The Greys Ave site, which will feature up to 280 apartment homes –three times the homes in the current old building, is ideally located for us to connect to support services and we are taking those services and our current and future tenants’ needs into how we design the new building.

Greys Avenue

Greys Avenue architect's render

Earlier this year we started engaging with our existing tenants, neighbours and other important stakeholders to discuss our plans and aspirations for this site.

These conversations are allowing us to hear from those who live there to understand what they need from the development as well as engaging with service providers to determine how we can design this building in the most effective way to provide holistic support.

We’re also continuing to seek feedback from our neighbours and others in the community.

Redeveloping 139 Greys Ave has the support of partners such as Ministry of Social Development, the Auckland District Health Board, Auckland City Mission, Lifewise, Housing First and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

The outcome will be a holistic, inter-agency service delivery model for state housing tenants in an innovative building and living environment.

This will be much more than just a building – it will be designed for the people, our tenants, to best meet their needs and ensure they get all the appropriate support.

Integrated social and health services in the one place, and thoughtful, carefully planned design have been weaved into our thinking on this project. It could also include communal spaces for cooking classes, music classes, a café for tenants and a green area, all designed to support healthy living.

I regard Greys Ave as a “flagship’’ for how we focus our attention into the future on the best ways to provide the highest levels of well organised support where the needs of our tenants are most complex.

This thoughtful approach will better serve our tenants and our communities.

More of this fresh thinking will be needed as we continue to ensure our tenants get not just a roof over their heads but other assistance to help them grow and thrive.

We are confident that re-developing the Greys Ave site will better meets the needs of the tenants of Housing New Zealand by providing many more state homes than the current building, using the most modern building methods to create warm, easy to maintain homes in a highly managed community providing a range of support services on site for a wide range of tenants.

This will help us build up, sustain and enrich lives. This will build a new sense of wider community. This will house New Zealanders who need the best we can do for them.

After all, that’s why we’re here.

Adrienne Young-Cooper
Board Chair, Housing New Zealand

Adrienne Young-Cooper

Adrienne Young-Cooper HNZC Board Chair


Adrienne Young-Cooper has had a 30-year-plus career in resource management and planning, specialising in in metropolitan growth and management. She started her Auckland planning career in the Central Area Planning Team in the Civic Building 100 metres from the Greys Avenue site. She has chaired the HNZ board since September 2015.

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