PHOTO: MONIQUE FORD / STUFFA nearly empty Hillary Court on a sunny afternoon.

Fast-food joints, bargain stores and empty shops greet visitors to Naenae’s hub and main shopping area, Hillary Court.

Behind wire fencing across the road is the closed Naenae Olympic swimming pool – once a vote of confidence for a thriving suburb, it has become a symbol of its decline.

The working-class stronghold at the north-eastern end of Lower Hutt was designed around community – a post-war suburban paradise for families to enjoy a hard-won peace.

The rows of concrete tile-topped state houses are still there but the suburb has ground to a halt.

The decades-long decline of Naenae has continued to the backdrop of a regionwide housing boom. As new people and new money scamble for a slice of the previously unfancied area, the old residents and economy are still being left behind.