Archive | Housing

Ngai Tahu Property secures another 2ha at Hobsonville Pt

Ngai Tahu Property Ltd has entered into a development agreement to build over 200 homes on 2ha at Hobsonville Point, one of the last undeveloped sites in the masterplanned community at the top of the Waitemata Harbour.

The newest acquisition resulted from an expression of interest process HLC Ltd (formerly the Hobsonville Land Co Ltd) conducted late last year. Ngai Tahu Property chief executive David Kennedy said yesterday it effectively doubles the size of the Kerepeti development, which will now deliver 417 homes over a combined 4ha.

The new site will contain a mix of apartments, terraced homes & walk-up apartments.

Based on a masterplan by Isthmus Group, the homes will be delivered in 4 stages. The first stage will contain 27 2½- & 3-bedroom terraces and 9 1½- & 2-bedroom walk-ups.

Mr Kennedy said 30% of the homes would be priced in keeping with Hobsonville Point’s Axis affordable homes programme.

Ngai Tahu Property is already developing 2 sites at Hobsonville Point through a consortium with the NZ Super Fund & New Ground Capital Ltd, but Ngai Tahu Property is undertaking this project on its own. The first homes on the consortium’s 2 sites, Uku & Kerewhenua, are due for completion early next year and will be available for sale off the plan from September through Colliers.

Ngai Tahu’s 3 development sites – 2 as part of a consortium.

Mr Kennedy said most of the homes in the new development would be available for sale as they are developed but, as with the accessible philosophy for the Kerepeti development as a whole, a portion will be retained and made available as long-term rental properties to be managed by New Ground Capital.

“We are committed to delivering attractive & functional homes that are in keeping with the fantastic location. All of the sites deliver a strong, connected community that adds to and benefits from the great levels of amenity that have made Hobsonville Point one of the most desirable new places to live in Auckland.”

HLC chief executive Chris Aiken said Ngai Tahu Property had demonstrated that developers can combine quality urban design, affordable housing & sound commercial returns working in partnership with the Government-owned HLC.

Earlier story:
5 May 2017: Construction starts on Ngai Tahu subdivision at Hobsonville Pt

Attribution: Company release.

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Construction starts on Ngai Tahu subdivision at Hobsonville Pt

Construction has started on Ngai Tahu’s innovative new residential development for Hobsonville Point that includes a number of long-term rentals.

It’s funded by the NZ Super Fund, Ngai Tahu Property Ltd & New Ground Capital Ltd.

The 208-home development on the former Defence Force base at the top of the Waitemata Harbour, announced in December 2015, was the initial step for Ngai Tahu Property into the Auckland market and is the first direct property investment for the NZ Super Fund.  First homes in the development will be on sale off the plans from September and the whole development is due to be completed by the end of 2018.

The Ngai Tahu development, now known as Kerepeti, covers 2 1ha superlot sites called Kerewhenua (111 homes) & Uku (97 homes).

The NZ Super Fund & Ngai Tahu Property are investing 48% each of the capital required for the development, and New Ground Capital is contributing the remaining 4%.

Each superlot will consist of a mix of apartments, terrace homes & walk-up apartments based on a masterplan by Context architects. They’ll be built by 4 local building companies – Classic Builders Ltd and Naylor Love Ltd (Kerewhenua) and Jalcon Homes Ltd & Haydn & Rollet Ltd (Uku).

About 50% of the 1- to 4-bedroom properties will be priced under the Auckland median house price and 30% will be priced in keeping with the Hobsonville Point affordable homes Axis programme.

About three-quarters of the homes will be available for sale as they are developed, but 47 are to be retained and made available as long-term rental properties to be managed by New Ground Capital, which was set up in 2014 to develop a long-term rental portfolio.

Anyone can apply to rent one of these homes once completed, with lease terms of up to 7 years to provide security of tenure, while still allowing leaseholders to shorten their lease should their circumstances change.

Ngai Tahu Property chief executive David Kennedy said: “The shared vision for this development was to ensure public & iwi funds are reinvested into infrastructure for the long-term benefit of New Zealanders – those who live there and the investors themselves.

“With building of terrace homes and early foundation works for the apartments now starting on both of the superlot sites, we are on the way to ensuring a broader section of the market, be they renter or homeowner, can have a quality place to live and enjoy access to all the amenities & lifestyle on offer at Hobsonville Point.

“We expect the new long-term rental properties to be listed on in the third quarter of this year.”


Ngai Tahu Property
NZ Super Fund
New Ground Capital
New Ground Living

Attribution: Company release.

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Corrected: Shenzhen developer launches first Auckland project at Hobsonville

Published & corrected 24 April 2017
Chinese developer Far East said on Friday it would build 39 terraced homes in the first stage of its 150-home Hobson Quarter development (pictured) between the Hobsonville village shops and the Upper Harbour Motorway, called Q|One. [Corrected: Originally I wrote that this development was at Hobsonville Point.]

Far East has also bought a 3406m2 site next to the Westfield Mall at Albany for over 200 apartments on 18 storeys in 2 buildings, plus retail & parking facilities.

The developer is part of the privately owned JiaHe JianAn Group, which has built about 7000 apartments in a decade in Shenzhen, China, and expanded into Australia in 2013.

Its Australia subsidiary, Zone Q Investments Pty Ltd, entered the Perth market first with an $A100 million apartment & commercial project overlooking the Swan River. It now has 4 Perth residential projects & one commercial property there, and bought in Sydney in December. It has the Aqualuna apartment development planned for a waterfront Milsons Point site and has also bought land in the north-western suburb of Cherrybrook, 30km from the Sydney cbd.

In New Zealand, Far East has an anticipated $300 million pipeline of residential & commercial projects. At Hobson Quarter, it’s working with Kate Roach Architecture & Design, which has studios in Melbourne & Auckland, and Greenstone Group Ltd for project management.

Marketing manager Daniel Zou said Far East had also identified other potential development sites in Auckland & Wellington, including prime office buildings. He said the move into New Zealand was a natural one as Kiwis began to consider a wider range of housing options in a tighter market.

“We spent a long time analysing the New Zealand market to determine the developments that would best suit local demand. We built an Auckland-based team and have partnered with well-known, respected local companies to develop homes tailored to the Kiwi lifestyle.

“We firmly believe that every property development needs to suit each community’s needs and Q|One is the epitome of this – higher density living that supports Auckland’s growing population, while still embracing New Zealanders’ love of large homes with generous outdoor spaces.”

Pre-sales for Q|One are underway through Bayleys Realty Group and construction is scheduled for completion in late 2018.

Links: Hobson Quarter
Zone Q
Kate Roach Architecture & Design

Attribution: Company release.

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Council-Selwyn housing joint venture to start in July

The housing for older people limited partnership between the Selwyn Foundation charitable trust & Auckland Council has changed its name, confirmed the appointments to the board of its general partner and appointed a general manager.

The limited partnership will take over operations of the council’s Housing for Older People portfolio on 1 July.

The limited partnership, formed in December 2016 as the HFOP LP, has been renamed the Haumaru Housing LP, and its general partner Haumaru Auckland Ltd.

Its role will be to undertake comprehensive tenancy & asset management services associated with the council’s stock of 1452 rental units for senior citizens, which are in villages in south, north & west Auckland. 1412 are existing & 40 are committed to being built in Wilsher Village in Henderson.

As a 51% shareholder, the Selwyn Foundation has appointed 3 directors – Selwyn board members Helen Melrose (who will be chair) & Vicki Sykes, and Selwyn chief executive Garry Smith. Auckland Council has appointed Matthew Harker & Kerry Hitchcock following an external selection process.

Gabby Clezy.

The board has appointed Gabby Clezy as the partnership’s general manager. Ms Clezy has been chief executive of aged residential care service provider TerraNova Homes & Care Ltd since 2014 and has extensive leadership & operational experience in social services & aged care in the UK & New Zealand. She’s worked for not-for-profit organisations in the healthcare arena, such as Bupa Care Services and specialist addictions mental health trust Odyssey House, and has also held senior roles in the UK tertiary education & national health sectors.

Attribution: Joint release.

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Avanda wins Airfields stage 2 development

Auckland Council company Panuku Development Auckland has confirmed Chinese-owned Avanda Ltd as the housing developer for stage 2 of the 20ha council-owned Airfields precinct at Hobsonville Point.

Avanda and its building partners will develop over 500 homes in stage 2, of which a minimum 10% will be affordable housing. Housing will be delivered within an agreed timeframe.

Panuku chief executive Roger MacDonald said Avanda was chosen after a competitive tender process, with strong interest from 6 potential developers.

“Avanda is a significant new entrant in the property development market and they showed commitment to developing all of stage 2, rather than just individual parcels that were offered to the market.”

Avanda project manager Winson Tan said the company would deliver a range of high quality housing options. The company has started detailed design to obtain the necessary resource consents for infrastructure works.

Avanda’s ultimate holding company is Guangzhou Jinxiu Dadi Property Co Ltd.

Building at Airfields stage 1 will start over the next few months. It will have 102 standalone & terrace homes.

Image above: Airfields stage 2 at Hobsonville Point, outlined in red.

Earlier story:
21 September 2015: Avanda launches first townhouses on Crown Lynn site

Attribution: Company release.

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Auckland house index eases again as buyers hunt elsewhere

Quotable Value Ltd’s house price index continued to ease in Auckland, Hamilton & Christchurch in January, while values continued to rise in Tauranga, Wellington & Dunedin.

In many Auckland suburbs, the index declined in the 3 months to January.

The nationwide annual increase of 13.5% dropped to 12.0% when adjusted for inflation, and from 52.4% to 28.5% above the 2007 peak. In Auckland, the annual increase dropped from 12.8% to 12.0% when adjusted for inflation, and from 91.7% to 61.6% above the 2007 peak.

QV national spokesperson Andrea Rush said today: “It’s possible rising mortgage interest rates and the new loan:value ratio (LVR) rules will continue to constrain the rate of value growth during 2017. However, this will be balanced by continued record high net migration and a lack of housing supply, particularly in Auckland. As well as the fact New Zealand property can be bought freehold and has fewer taxes on property compared with many other countries, meaning it remains a highly attractive investment to foreign buyers.”

Growth around outlying centres

Wellington prices have taken off since mid-2015.

In a sweep around the country, Ms Rush said in a release: “We are now seeing a strong trend of value growth in regional centres around the country, particularly those situated within 2-3 hours’ drive of the main centres that have seen very strong value growth recently such as Auckland, Wellington & Queenstown.

“These include the Kaipara District just north of Auckland, where values accelerated 6.4% over the past 3 months and 25.9% since January last year, led by strong growth in places like Mangawhai, now a favourite for those who are selling up and moving out of Auckland.

“Similarly, the Hauraki District south of Auckland, and also commuting distance to Hamilton & Tauranga, accelerated 10.8% over the past 3 months and 30.3% year on year, with towns like Paeroa and& Ngatea in high demand from movers & investors alike.

“Values in regions near Wellington such as the Kapiti Coast, Horowhenua & South Wairarapa have also risen between 5-7% since November, as those priced out of the Wellington market look further out for affordable property.

“The Mackenzie District in the South Island has jumped 9.7% since November and 26.9% year on year as those priced out of Queenstown, Wanaka & the surrounds look to places like Tekapo & Twizel for lakeside property.”


In Auckland, the strongest growth over the last 3 months was in Franklin, as buyers looked further out from the city centre for more affordable property.

QV Auckland homevalue manager James Steele said: “Places such as Waiuku, Pukekohe & coastal areas south of Clevedon are experiencing strong demand & value increases due to higher demand from investors & home buyers alike.

“There still is a high demand in this area for new-build dwellings with both land & house packages and design & build packages happening within the new developments of Pukukohe, Patumahoe, Waiau Pa & Kingseat.

“There’s been a similar trend north of Auckland, with Rodney North seeing the strongest growth in the Auckland region over the past year – up by 14.5% year on year. This has been driven by stronger demand in places like Wellsford, Warkworth, Matakana & surrounding areas.

“However, quarterly value growth there has eased from 3.6% quarterly growth last month to 1.6% quarterly growth this month, most likely due to the impact of the LVR restrictions.

“Meanwhile, the Waitakere, North Shore & Manukau housing markets have been slow going, with vendors having to adjust their price expectations down to sell, and open home attendances have been slow from November through January.

“It appears people may be taking a wait-&-see approach until after Waitangi weekend, and it appears people aren’t willing or able with new loan restrictions to pay the premiums that they were in the first half of 2016.”

QV’s index figures around Auckland on the old council boundaries, plus Kaipara, Hamilton, Tauranga, the Auckland & Wellington regions, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown Lakes and nationally – the latest average value & index shifts in the last 3 months, last 12 months & since the 2007 peak:

Kaipara, $463,896, 6.4%, 25.9%, 16.9%
Rodney, $933,456, 1.6%, 13.7%, 59.1%
North, $961,450, 2.3%, 14.5%, 60.1%
Hibiscus Coast, $908,966, 1.3%, 12.8%, 54.8%
North Shore, $1,214,291, -0.5%, 12.5%, 88.2%
Coastal, $1,387,368, -0.3%, 13.2%, 84.1%
Onewa, $971,364, -1.9%, 11.2%, 95.8%
North Harbour, $1,189,924, 0.9%, 12.8%, 95.8%
Waitakere, $836,574, -0.1%, 13.6%, 97.3%
Auckland City, $1,225,096, 1.3%, 12.1%, 96.8%
Central, $1,065,420, 2.4%, 12.0%, 87.1%
East, $1,532,815, 2.4%, 12.3%, 92.3%
South, $1,107,912, -0.4%, 11.9%, 105.8%
Islands, $1,036,288, 0.3%, 14.8%, 62.1%
Manukau, $901,422, -0.5%, 13.7%, 96.9%
East, $1,158,197, -1.3%, 13.9%, 94.3%
Central, $686,567, -1.8%, 11.6%, 82.6%
North-west, $781,110, 1.6%, 15.7%, 111.4%
Papakura, $684,172, 0.2%, 12.6%, 90.2%
Franklin, $660,557, 2.9%, 13.1%, 67.0%
Auckland region, $1,047,699, 0.2%, 12.8%, 91.7%
Hamilton, $531,337, -1.1%, 18.6%, 47.0%
Tauranga, $672,752, 3.2%, 20.7%, 39.7%
Wellington, $702,081, 4.6%, 21.1%, 31.9%
Christchurch, $497,539, -0.2%, 2.8%, 31.1%
Queenstown Lakes, $1,032,560, 6.0%, 30.7%, 50.1%
Dunedin, $359,055, 5.1%, 15.5%, 25.4%
Total NZ, $631,302, 1.4%, 13.5%, 52.4%.

QV house price index for January 2017

Related story today: Agency says market tight for holiday homes & land

Attribution: QV release.

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Agency says market tight for holiday homes & land

First National Real Estate chief executive Bob Brereton said yesterday strong sales of holiday homes around New Zealand might mark the beginning of renewed interest in coastal investment property as investors continue to look outside Auckland for opportunities.

Mr Brereton said the agency’s offices around the country reported more activity & interest in holiday homes over the summer: “Between 2003-07, coastal property & holiday homes saw a strong rise in values, but they fell out of favour after the global financial crisis and haven’t really featured as an investment option in more recent years. But it looks like that might be changing.”

He said the group’s offices in Whangamata, Tauranga, Mt Maunganui, Waihi, Riverton & Wanaka all experienced strong sales interest, but securing listings was an ongoing problem.

“In most of those locations we simply can’t get enough stock to meet the strong growing demand – which means prices are being pushed up and vendors are finding themselves in the box seat. Whangamata & Waihi have seen big price increases, and prices in Wanaka have increased by around 50% over the past 18 months.”

Mr Brereton said the supply of rental stock had become very tight in coastal locations: “In some areas, our offices are reporting that it’s virtually impossible to find a long-term rental, and even short-term holiday-stay rentals are tricky to find. This means there is no shortage of potential tenants in these locations, something that may have previously concerned would-be investors.”

Vacant sections were also in high demand: “Our Whangamata office has seen the number of available developable sections drop by more than 90% over the past 12 months and, at Waihi Beach, vacant sections are in such high demand they’re being sold up to 36 months before title is formally issued.”

Related story:
1 February 2017: Auckland house index eases again as buyers hunt elsewhere

Attribution: Agency release.

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Council shifts pensioner housing into new partnership, and Christchurch does similar

Auckland Council’s governing body voted yesterday to enter a long-term partnership with the Selwyn Foundation for the management & operation of the council’s Housing for Older People (HfOP) service.

The council will hold 49% and the foundation 51% in a limited partnership. The joint venture will register as a class 1 landlord and become a community housing provider eligible to receive Government income-related rent subsidy funding.

The Christchurch City Council also voted yesterday to separate its social housing portfolio from total council control, but in a different structure.

The most important difference between the 2 structures concerns maintenance. Councils are good at making capital spending decisions, but have a long & consistent record of being far poorer at maintaining assets, or on maintaining capital spending on vital but unseen infrastructure such as sewer piping.

The Auckland partnership will maintain & upgrade the housing portfolio. In Christchurch, the trust will pay the council rent which is to be applied to maintenance.

Cllr Cathy Casey noted the “hole” in the portfolio on the isthmus, the result of the 2001 selloff of Auckland City Council’s pensioner housing in John Banks’ first term as mayor. Rather than revive debate on the merits of that 2001 decision, deputy mayor Penny Hulse, chairing the meeting, said: “We need to move on from decisions that were made. We need to work with the status of now, but it’s a very good question, how is that great big hole in central Auckland being resolved?”

David Rankin – finance & democracy services director in that council 15 years ago, now strategy & engagement director on Auckland Council’s Panuku Development Auckland council-controlled organisation – told councillors the council had effectively been able to limit ratepayer input by putting its portfolio into the joint venture at no cost, but also with no dividend because all returns will go back into housing.

“There’s an ongoing budget built into the model for maintenance – we know there is a problem with a lot of the units. Effectively in the new model, the Ministry of Social Development is working out across the region where the highest priorities are. If, as we all surmise, there’s an unmet need in the isthmus part of Auckland, the ministry will make subsidy streams available and this new partnership will be able to buy sites.”

Christchurch structure

In Christchurch, the council’s social housing portfolio will be run by a new trust the council set up, the Otautahi Community Housing Trust. The council approved leasing the land & buildings to the trust, which will take over management from 3 October. The trust has applied for registration as a community housing provider so it can receive the income-related rent subsidy.

The council set up the trust, which has 3 council-appointed trustees & 4 who are independent. It’s not a council-controlled organisation and will only be the operator & manager. The council retains ownership of both land & housing stock, and the trust will pay the council net rent of $12 million/year, rising to a maximum $19 million including gst, to provide for maintenance, refurbishment & replacement.

The initial lease term is 5 years and the trust has 5 5-year rights of renewal.

Auckland Council agenda material: 11, Housing for older people: Partnership for the management & operation of the council housing for older people service and adoption of the high level project plan
Christchurch City Council social housing proposal

Earlier stories:
22 August 2016: Council votes Thursday on Selwyn partnership for old folks’ housing
11 April 2016: Casey wants to increase instead of maintain housing for elderly
1 May 2015: 2800 homes switch from Housing NZ to government-council JV
November 2001: New-look Auckland council gets on with selling flats
November 2001: Council figures new fund will net it $89 million over 9 years
22 November 2001: Auckland council’s direction shift formalised

Attribution: Council meeting, Christchurch council documents.

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Maori & Pacific home ownership falls far more than the overall decline

Maori & Pacific Islanders have taken a far bigger hit in home ownership over the last 30 years than the rest of the population, Statistics NZ said yesterday.

The overall decline in ownership was 15.3%, but for Maori it was 20% and Pacific people 34.8%. In some bigger North Island cities the declines were even larger.

Statistics NZ said home ownership peaked nationally in 1991: “Three-quarters of all people in households lived in an owner-occupied dwelling. At the time, around half of Maori & Pacific people lived in an owner-occupied dwelling.

“Between 1986-2013, the proportion of New Zealand’s population living in dwellings not owned by the household increased from around one-quarter to over one-third of the population (24.8% to 36.3%) – up 46.4%. As home-ownership rates have declined, Maori & Pacific people have also been increasingly living in properties rented from private landlords, businesses or a trust, rather than from other sources.”

Report author Rosemary Goodyear said the research showed the proportion of Maori living in private rentals had increased by 88.3% since 1986, compared to a 42.7% increase for the total population.

“The falls in home ownership did not just occur in our largest cities. For Maori, falls were close to 40% in the Whangarei, southern Auckland, Tauranga, Rotorua & Hastings urban areas.

The decline in home-ownership rates for all Pacific people in Auckland was similar, down over 40% in western & southern Auckland.

Dr Goodyear said her report aimed to provide extra information around changes in home ownership and give agencies working with Maori & Pacific people the information they need: “We hope this information will be useful to policymakers wanting to draft policy around home ownership & renting. Evidence shows us that people living in rented dwellings tend to experience more problems with housing quality and this can affect people’s health & well-being.”

Changes in home-ownership patterns 1986–2013: Focus on Maori & Pacific people
Maori & Pacific peoples’ home-ownership falls over 25% in cities

Attribution: Statistics NZ release.

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Fletcher wins approval for subdivision next to Mangere stonefields

Fletcher Residential Ltd, the development subsidiary of NZX-listed Fletcher Building Ltd, has won another controversial right to develop an Auckland site, this time the 32ha Oruarangi special housing area next to the Otuataua stonefields historic reserve in Mangere.

Fletcher’s proposal to redevelop the Three Kings quarry for up to 1500 homes, including a land swap with Auckland Council for sportsfields, has won council approval for the land exchange but has been appealed by opponents.

The decisions on variation 9 to the proposed Auckland unitary plan, and the Oruarangi land use consents under the Housing Accords & Special Housing Areas Act, were dated 18 May and the plan variation was deemed to be operative yesterday.

For local Maori who opposed the development, wanted it to occur on other vacant land nearby, or who supported the proposal because it was inevitable and hoped to win concessions, hearing panel chair Leigh McGregor expressed sympathy, told much of their story in the decision but said, in the end, a resource management hearing was not the place for grievances dating back to the mid-19th century to be heard.

The land’s status as a special housing area had already been decided when that was approved in July 2014 under the housing accord between the Government & Auckland Council. What remained to be decided after the hearing on 3-4 February were the permission to subdivide, and the conditions to do so.

8-year development plan

Fletcher Residential aims to complete the development’s 4 stages over about 8 years. The initial qualifying development will supply 92 residential lots, one lot to retain an historic homestead and 6 superlots for a total 140 houses on 8.2ha, including 15 affordable homes. Ultimately the development will provide for 480 houses.

Fletcher Residential sought to have the 32ha at 545-561 Oruarangi Rd rezoned in the proposed Auckland unitary plan from future urban to a combination of mixed housing suburban, public open space, conservation and green infrastructure corridor.

Ms McGregor said the land was currently zoned future development in the Manukau section of the operative Auckland district plan: “In other words, under the provisions of both the operative plan & the proposed plan, the site is already earmarked for urban development.”

The qualifying development application was for concurrent subdivision & land use consents. As well as the housing, subdivision consent was also required to create a lot to be vested as a recreation reserve, 2 local purpose reserves to serve as accessways, roads to be vested in the council, and 2 balance lots. Consents for bulk earthworks & reconstruction of stone walls on the Oruarangi Rd frontage were also required.

Counsel for Fletcher, Sue Simons, said at the hearing the vision for the development was “the creation of an affordable residential community that achieves quality environmental outcomes and recognises cultural values & associations with the area. The proposed development will offer its residents access to connected open space & the adjoining Otuataua stonefields historic reserve. It will also be connected to a variety of transport options, including pedestrian & cycle networks”.

The development land is located at the end of the Ihumatao Peninsula on the eastern fringes of the Manukau Harbour and is 21km from central Auckland. The general area is known as the Western Gateway, with the peninsula forming part of what is referred to as the Mangere gateway heritage area.

It’s fringed by a reserve to the north, a papakainga village to the east, Oruarangi Rd to the south-south-east and the Rennie block, owned by the council, and part of the reserve to the west. Ihumatao Quarry Rd bisects the site from the south-east to the north-west. Despite its proximity to the motorway and the city, the area hasn’t been serviced by public transport and there are no schools or shops.

The stonefields reserve, created in 2001, adjoins the site to the north-west, and portions of the eastern slope of the reserve extend into the special housing area land. The Makaurau marae & papakainga lie to the north-east, while across the road & immediately to the east is land zoned as Mangere gateway business (Oruarangi) in the district plan, which is being developed for business purposes with a number of small to medium-sized business/industrial units. Beyond that new development is the airport precinct.

The wider area is bounded by the South-western Motorway (State Highway 20) to the east, George Bolt Drive & the Auckland international airport terminals, runways & business park to the south, and the Manukau Harbour to the north & west.

Rezoning approved in 2012

The Environment Court approved rezoning of this & nearby land from rural to the future development zone in 2012. Ms McGregor quoted part of the court’s decision in the decision out yesterday: “To keep the land outside the MUL (metropolitan urban limit) with a rural zoning would, without further constraints, offer less protection to the characteristics protected by section 6 (e) & (f) of the Resource Management Act. To lock the land up might indeed provide for Maori & heritage values. But it would not provide for the economic needs & wellbeing of the owners. By allowing sensitive constrained development, heritage & landscape characteristics can be protected.”

Panel chair acknowledges depth of feeling

Ms McGregor recorded, from previous court evidence, some of the depth of feeling about the area: “The volcanic features on the Ihumatao Peninsula are recognised as taonga by local Maori and the court recorded the evidence given to it that subsequent modifications & destructions of these features have caused immense distress & ongoing grief.

“Examples of such modifications included creation of the Mangere sewerage ponds & associated water treatment plant on the edge of the Manukau Harbour, quarrying of various maunga, and construction of the second runway for the Auckland international airport. Destructions included laying waste to cultural icons when the wastewater treatment ponds were built.”

She also noted that, although the Environment Court concluded there was little doubt that Ngati Ahiwaru, the inhabitants of the area in 1853 when Maori were ordered to leave, were unfairly treated by the Crown, “those matters cannot be addressed through Resource Management Act processes. We agree with that, and note that in the present case a remedy for historical grievances is not provided by our jurisdiction in terms of the Housing Accords & Special Housing Areas Act either”.

Several submissions were concerned with the special housing legislation, its affordable housing requirements and public involvement in the special housing area formulation processes. Again, Ms McGregor said in the panel decision: “As noted by Ms Simons in her legal submissions, those are political processes which are beyond the control of the authority. We have no jurisdiction to comment on, let alone decide, the matters raised…

“We were made aware that a claim has been made to the Waitangi Tribunal by persons or parties who object to the special housing area legislation process and the announcement of this land as a special housing area. Again it would be inappropriate for this authority to comment on that claim or any steps the Waitangi Tribunal might have taken in relation to it. Impacts on property values, and potential rate increases, were also raised and are similarly inappropriate as a basis for decisions under the legislative framework that applies to the current applications.

“The combined submissions of the Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority & the Makaurau Marae Maori Trust supported both the plan variation & the qualifying development application and stated they represent the people who hold mana whenua of Ihumatao and who reside at Puketapapa papakainga (Ihumatao village). There was also a submission in support of both applications lodged by Daniel Nahkle, who is a director of several companies including that developing the business land at 533 & 556 Oruarangi Rd. This confirmed that the parties he represented had agreed to stormwater & wastewater infrastructure for the development being installed for the qualifying development.”

The hearing panel turned down a request from Auckland International Airport Ltd that a proportion of the development contributions to be generated by the development be allocated to improving the local road network, including roads which it owns around the airport. Ms McGregor: “We have no jurisdiction to consider that request as this is a Local Government Act matter, and therefore we have no legal basis on which to make the decision the company sought.”

Fletcher’s archaeologist sees benefit

Archaeologist Rod Clough, on behalf of Fletcher Residential, said the project would actually protect a number of significant features and also add a valuable buffer to the stonefields reserve that would assist in protecting its values over the long term. He advised that the adverse effects on historic heritage would require mitigation through a range of measures which include development of a reserve management plan, establishing a protective covenant for the historic Kintyre House, repair & restoration of stone walls where feasible, archaeological investigation & recording to recover information relating to the history of the area, and providing public amenities in the reserve area, including information on the history of occupation (and including the association of the Wallace family with this land, which the family acquired in 1863).

Marae head details long battle

Mr Te Warena Taua, who chairs the local Makaurau Marae Trust and is a kaumatua of Te Kawerau a Maki as well as executive chairman of Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority, described the confiscations & military activity in & around Ihumatao during the 19th century, including how Maori had been ordered to leave the area when the English soldiers arrived in 1863. When Maori finally began returning, there was nowhere for them to live. At the time the Crown grant was made to Mr Wallace some nearby land had been ‘gifted’ to iwi, although they didn’t gain title to it until 1911. Land was taken back from the Wallace family and divided between 14 kaumatua of several related iwi groups.

Mr Taua said more & more houses were built and gradually more of his people started to return. He said Ihumatao had changed immensely since that time. There are now 67 houses in the village, around two-thirds of which are owned by those who live there. The population is now around 210 people.

Mr Taua referred to the Environment Court cases which had considered the extent of the metropolitan urban limit and an attempt to rezone 545-561 Oruarangi Rd as public open space. Mr Taua was involved in these cases and clearly disappointed by the outcome. He explained that since that time his focus had shifted from opposing growth to negotiating with Fletcher to achieve better outcomes for tangata whenua through the provision of affordable housing for those who return to the area, creating an ongoing relationship with the developer and ensuring that the future housing would be set back from the papakainga & urupa.

He said in the course of these discussions: “Fletchers came to realise how much this land means to us. The proposal was 520 houses which came down to 480 … then it agreed to move a fence back by 80m, which is a sizeable area, and that land will come back to us in fee simple. This is the first time since the confiscations that land, including the toe of the maunga, will come back to us.

“There are at least 200 families who could come back and live in the village. We’ve had children who could not be brought up here because there’s no room. That’s nothing to do with Fletchers, but there are many who want to come back and they have a right to do so. It’s up to us. If our people are able to return to these houses then we have done something.”

He added that those who were opposed to the development had not taken any account of the people who are not there and who want to return. He acknowledged there could be no guarantee that descendants of the original settlers will actually own all of the new houses, although that aspect was also being negotiated.

Effects more than minor, but…

Ms McGregor said in the decision: “We have concluded that the heritage, cultural & archaeological effects of the development will be more than minor. In this context, however, it must also be borne in mind that in respect of this particular land the Environment Court has already decided that appropriate development can occur on the site and that it should not be retained as a wholly open space area. While there may have been previous intentions by various agencies to purchase all or some of the land as reserve, the fact is it has never happened and the advice we received at the end of the hearing was the Auckland Council has no intention to acquire it.

“We are satisfied that the proposal will set back any development from sites of cultural, heritage & archaeological significance, and that the design has included a reduction in the overall yield, and a buffer & building height restriction between the existing papakainga and the development. The ground-penetrating radar survey has confirmed that the full extent of the known burial caves & the 2 smaller lava voids are located within the proposed reserve area and will not be affected by the development.”

Opponent Brendan Corbett raised the issue of development density just before the hearing and in formal submissions, arguing that it would be a much lower density than other special housing areas.

480 dwellings on 32ha equated to a density of 15 houses/ha, while special housing area 59 at Walmsley Rd in Mangere would yield 1500 dwellings from the same land area and have a density of 100 houses/ha, and special housing area 93 at Kirkbride Rd would yield 53 from 1.7ha, a density of 31/ha.

Ms McGregor commented: “He construed the lower density proposed for Oruarangi as a marketing strategy designed to pitch the houses to the high price/elite end of the market. However, Mr Corbett’s preference was for this site to be purchased for reserve purposes, with no development to take place on it at all as ‘losing the land to housing had never been conceived of as possible’….

“It was apparent to those reporting for the council that Mr Corbett’s density calculations had been based on the entire site, without taking into account any areas to be set aside for stormwater, roads, reserves & the buffer to the west.”

Between the applicant and the council, only one variation provision remained in dispute by the time the application was set down for hearing. This related to the recommended rule 4.13, which at that time required that no more than 6 affordable dwellings or sites were to be provided in a single cluster. Fletcher asked to increase that to 9 dwellings so terraced housing could be developed, as that typology would provide an economic option for affordable housing.

Ms McGregor said the outcome of discussions between Fletcher & the council before the hearing was agreement that a cluster of 9 dwellings could be provided. The approved variation reflects that agreed outcome.

In sum, Ms McGregor said: “The authority has concluded that the development anticipated by plan variation 9 is appropriate. We have been satisfied that the special characteristics of this area will be maintained in that the proposed unitary plan provisions for the Oruarangi Rd sub-precinct do not provide for tall buildings that would otherwise intrude on views of the maunga or the stonefields; they will maintain public access to the coast, the stonefields area and the stonefields reserve; they will require an appropriate buffer area between the development and the stonefields reserve along with other heritage protection measures, and will maintain & enhance linkages with, and for the customs of, the adjacent papakainga & the Makaurau marae.

The applications were heard by the accord territorial authority comprised of Ms McGregor (chair), Robert Scott, Shona Myers, Basil Morrison & Murray Kay (local board member).

Oruarangi hearing documents
Variation 9 full decision

Earlier stories:
2 February 2016: Minister takes Fletcher side on 3 Kings, and local politicians cry foul
29 January 2016: Opponents say Ihumatao alone as low-density special housing area proposal

Attribution: Panel decision.

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