The Waimahia affordable housing project at Weymouth has completed its 100th home, just over a year since construction work began.
The homes are on freehold, standalone sites and are a mix of two to five bedrooms ranging in price from $350,000 to $540,000. Stage two of the development is now underway with stage three currently being sold off plans. All up, the project will construct 295 homes.
The $120 million development is a partnership between four partners: Nga Mana Whenua o Tamaki Makaurau (Tamaki Collective) comprising 13 Auckland iwi/hapu; the New Zealand Housing Foundation; Te Tumu Kainga (the Maori Trustee CHP) and CORT Community Housing. It is supported by a Government grant.
Chair of the Waimahia partnership, Paul Majurey, says the Mana Whenua led project delivers a blueprint for providing more affordable housing.
“Waimahia is offering the most affordable, new homes in Auckland by a huge margin. Not only is it the biggest development of affordable homes in Auckland but also unique in that it is the largest project undertaken to date by community housing providers in partnership with mana whenua.
“Waimahia presents a real opportunity for first home buyers and families entering the housing market to purchase in a quality, new housing community at a much more affordable price compared to houses produced via the traditional development model.”
Each home has been architecturally designed to be warm and energy efficient, and is being built by experienced, registered builders to a high standard. There is a mix of private ownership, supported ownership and community rental accommodation. The focus is on sales to first home buyers and owner-occupiers. This has been achieved with a mix of subsidised rental housing for low-income tenants, rent-to-buy and shared equity homes as well as many homes for sale on the open market.
“We have been able to achieve it (the project) via a partnership involving iwi, community housing providers, and central and local government all playing important roles. The role of government in providing grant funding as working capital has been crucial.
“Our partnership is driven by strong social objectives as well as the necessary commercial drivers. We have primarily been focused on building a community, not just affordable homes, and our buyers are attracted to this philosophy.
“For mana whenua, it is very pleasing to provide opportunities for our people to participate at a time when Maori are feeling the effects of the volatile real estate market. We are providing tangible and affordable housing opportunities,” Mr Majurey said.
The partners will celebrate completion of the first stage of the 295 home project, alongside the Waimahia community, on November 14 when Building and Housing Minister Hon Dr Nick Smith will attend a Residents’ Association barbecue marking the 100th home and a steadily growing, flourishing community.
Rent-to-own purchasers Lisa Myers and Wirihana Takuira made headlines in September last year, as one of the first owners to move in to the 16 hectare development. One year down the track and now with a new 10 month old son, Ngawaka (a brother for four year old Raukura), the couple say the move has transformed their outlook on life.
“It’s so much better than our last rental. In the winter, it was really damp and cold so we used a gas heater and the oven to keep warm and it was still cold. Here, one small heater heats up the entire house quickly and during the day the sun heats the rooms upstairs so it’s warm when the kids go to bed. I’ve never been in a house this warm and dry,” says Lisa.
“I’m so proud and I love showing friends and family my home. I’ve never enjoyed cleaning so much and I guess it’s because it’s my place. It’s been awesome. Best of all, we have our very own safe place for our kids to grow up in and a great neighbourhood. ”
The couple acknowledge the increased responsibilities which have accompanied home ownership, such as rates and water bills, but say it has made them work even harder.
“For sure it’s a long day and sometimes we don’t all get to sit at the table until 7pm but when I look around I think, man, this is worth it. It’s my happy place.”
The first house at Waimahia was completed just over a year ago, and on average, eight homes have been constructed per month since. By the end of the last stage, it is anticipated the development will have provided housing for 300 families and over 1500 people.
The Waimahia inlet site sits on the edge of the Manukau Harbour, with nine roads and a protected stream. It is New Zealand’s most advanced Special Housing Area (SHA) development – the first of its kind launched under the programme. It has also had assistance from the Housing Project Office at Auckland Council to facilitate the speed of the development.