PHOTO: Kāinga Ora
A 17-unit residential development located in an affluent enclave in South Auckland has caused considerable anger among local residents after it was disclosed that the project was intended for social housing.
The Gardens, situated in Manurewa, is commonly described by its residents as a “lifestyle choice,” offering an escape from what they perceive as the “subpar areas and undesirable elements” in the vicinity.
A petition, which has garnered approximately 1900 signatures, is demanding that the housing agency Kāinga Ora (KO) sell the newly proposed development on Hill Road. The petition argues that the future of The Gardens is at stake and cites various concerns such as potential increases in crime and a decrease in property values. The petition was initiated by Matt Winiata, the deputy chair of the Manurewa Local Board and a real estate agent.
Winiata pointed out that the average property price within The Gardens stands at $1.27 million, significantly higher than the values in other parts of South Auckland where KO typically develops, which range from $788,000 to $800,000. He expressed the sentiment that while housing is considered a human right, residents who have paid property rates should also have a say in the matter.
Nestled between Totara Park and the Auckland Botanic Gardens, The Gardens boasts extravagant estates just a short distance from the new housing complex. There are even homes designed to resemble castles. Winiata emphasized that the community offers an ideal living environment but is often challenging to access due to its price tag. He stressed that it isn’t elitist but rather exclusive.
Concerned about the potential impact of KO’s housing project, Winiata informed dissatisfied residents about a community information session hosted by Kāinga Ora in September. However, footage from the event revealed that a group of irate middle-aged men, egged on by a local board member, disrupted the session with shouts and profanities.
KO’s regional director, Angela Pearce, expressed disappointment about the turn of events, stating, “We had hoped for meaningful dialogue, but a group of residents, encouraged by a local board member, prevented that from occurring, which was very disheartening. Regrettably, we had to conclude the event prematurely out of concern for the safety of our staff and others in the vicinity.”