Sofas, blankets and a broken pram – the land of Kāinga Ora is now a dumping ground

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Sofas, blankets and a broken pram are just some of the items that have been dumped in an empty section of the Tauranga suburb of Hairini.

While illegal dumping is happening everywhere, it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back for some locals who are frustrated with Kāinga Ora’s lack of action.

The 10 lots on Haukore Street are owned by the state real estate agency and, although fenced, have become a dump and are overgrown with weeds.

Most of the land has been cleared of 1960s homes in preparation for the planned construction of 21 new homes, but it has been two years since some homes were vacated and fenced off.

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A man living next to one of the vacant lots, who did not want to be named, said people threw rubbish late at night.

He believed it was people from outside the area.

“I kept an eye on it,” he said.

“You hear a noise at 3 a.m. and then you see them take off.”

The lots were described as an eyesore.

JOHN BORREN/SUN MEDIA

The lots were described as an eyesore.

He said the grounds had been mowed once or twice since demolition, which began in October 2021.

Another resident, Graham Hopkins, said that before the houses were knocked down, the lawns were regularly mowed by a contractor.

“It was pretty tidy, but as soon as they started knocking them over, it all turned into custard,” Hopkins said.

“They should do something to keep them clean and tidy until they start building.”

Zara McIndoe, who also lives down the street, said the sections were “awful” and “embarrassing for residents”.

Kāinga Ora Bay of Plenty Regional Manager Darren Toy said the houses had been demolished at various stages, with nine of 11 demolished, one in progress and a newly purchased house about to be demolished.

A diagram of the houses proposed for Haukore St.

JOHN BORREN/SUN MEDIA

A diagram of the houses proposed for Haukore St.

“We are aware that people are littering the sites, which is really disappointing, and we do our best to remove it when possible,” Toy said.

He said they had planned work to tidy up the sections and remove overgrown vegetation and litter.

“This work will take place as soon as possible given the current Covid situation, which has had an impact on the availability of contractors.

“We have also put up security fencing around vacant sites.”

The fences did little to deter people from accessing the sections and were open in some places when Local Democracy Reporting visited Haukore St.

McIndoe worried about the cost to the taxpayer of renting the fences for years.

“My worry is the apparent lack of progress and how long it’s taking, even under Covid,” she said.

“It just seems to have been fenced off, left behind and forgotten.”

Toy said the homes had been vacated so the organization could redevelop the sites and “provide more much-needed new modern homes”.

“It took time to work with the whānau who lived in these older homes to help them move into other homes that meet their particular needs,” he said.

“It meant that some of these old houses were empty before their demolition or eventual relocation.

Nine of the 11 houses belonging to Kāinga Ora were demolished.

JOHN BORREN/SUN MEDIA

Nine of the 11 houses belonging to Kāinga Ora were demolished.

“Kāinga Ora was also in talks with a hapū to move the remaining vacant properties on Haukore St, but the hapū chose not to take those houses and the decision was made to demolish them instead.”

He said construction of the 21 new homes is expected to begin later this year.

This is a change from what Toy said previously. In September 2021, Toy said work could begin on the site in early mid-2022, with completion of the new homes expected in 2023.

“Plans have been submitted to [Tauranga City] Council for Resource Consent and we will share with the community once these plans are approved – likely in the coming weeks,” he said.

Hopkins looked forward to the houses being completed.

“We’re all looking forward to seeing them get bogged down and get the new houses built,” he said.

“What’s going to be out there looks really, really good.”

The scene of the shooting in January 2020 near Haukore St.

JOHN BORREN/SUN MEDIA

The scene of the shooting in January 2020 near Haukore St.

Fears resurface

Residents also feared that the problems of the past could reoccur when the new houses are rented.

In January 2020, one of Kāinga Ora’s houses and a car were shot in a suspected gang retaliatory event.

In April of the same year, a 37-year-old man associated with the Mongols MC gang was arrested in connection with the incident.

The previously mentioned resident, who did not want to be named, said that with the houses gone, they had “brought out all the ‘roughians'”.

“I’ve been here for 30 years,” he says.

“There were big fights that ended in half a dozen police officers or even AOS who came out.

“You are sitting on your patio and you see someone running down the road screaming holding a machete or an axe.”

Another resident, Mary, said there were issues with gangs, homes and cars being broken into.

“I think they learned from the past how the neighborhood turned out.”

In response to residents’ concerns, Toy said, “It is important to remember that the vast majority of the nearly 200,000 people who live in Kāinga Ora homes are good neighbors and members of their communities.” .

“Less than one per cent of our tenants receive complaints of disruptive behavior, and that number has fallen year over year since 2017 as we continue to improve the support we provide to our customers.

“When problems arise, we react quickly to resolve them, working intensively with people and whānau to find out the root cause and fix the problem,” he said.

“We generally get good results from the support we provide, often involving wider support departments and networks.

“We never want anyone to feel unsafe in their home or neighborhood.”

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