Eleven new state homes were officially opened by the Minister for Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford on 5 February.
The spacious one-bedroom homes on Maunu Rd, in Woodhill, are just 500m from Whangarei Hospital and have been designed for people with limited mobility and other health needs.
Tenant Wayne is stoked to be moving in. "The new house is ka pai. The biggest advantage for me is that it’s all on one level. I have a heart condition so it’s a bit hard getting up the stairs. I’m looking forward to not having to worry about that anymore."
His neighbour Maurice says he will miss his old place on Anzac Road, especially the view from his third floor flat, but the houses on Maunu Rd have other benefits. "They are great, really nice and new, and it looks like there will be plenty of room to move around."
Five of the houses are fully accessible with ramps, wide hallways and wet-room showers, as well as other specifications. The other six homes have been designed to be easily modified, if needed, in future.
The opening event kicked off with a karakia (formal greeting) led by members of local hapu Te Parawhau. This was followed by speeches from Minister Twyford and Housing New Zealand Deputy Board Chair Vui Mark Gosche.
Several tenants came along, as well as members of Whangarei Council, Housing New Zealand, building company Pacific Homes and local media.
Minister Twyford said one of the Government’s top priorities was reinventing and modernising public housing for the 21st century.
"At the moment, the Government is investing $4 billion into building more public housing all around the country. For the first time in decades, we are building significant numbers of houses in regions outside our biggest cities.
"But it’s not just about building houses, good design is critical. They have to be great places for people to live in at all ages and stages of life.
"That’s why I’m particularly pleased and proud of the work that Housing New Zealand has done with this development and so many others that they are building."
Vui Mark Gosche said it was brilliant to be opening new homes in Whangarei under Housing New Zealand’s Regional Housing Programme, especially given that nearly half the development is made up of accessible homes.
He thanked the tenants for coming along on the day. "I hope you enjoy these homes because we certainly enjoy making new warm, dry homes available to you."
He also acknowledged the members of Whangarei Council, including Mayor Sheryl Mai and councillor Cherry Herman, who were there on the day.
"We couldn’t do this without your support. It’s not a matter of building the houses, tenanting them and saying goodbye.
"We want to make sure that Housing New Zealand is a good neighbour and that we contribute to building strong communities on an ongoing basis."