The government’s plans to alleviate the housing crisis by privatizing more state-owned assets and deregulating the building industry is shockingly short-sighted.
The “lack of land” the Finance Minister cites is a red herring. We need to build more houses, not simply move them from place to place only to sell the land freed up to private investors whose goals is to make a profit by building a mansion with a waterview.
This is the gentrification process that is happening in Glen Innes right now, and it does not create new houses that are much needed. Of the 156 state houses being removed from GI, so-called ‘brownfield’ development, only 78 will be owned by Housing New Zealand. The other half are to be put on the market and sold to private developers. For a working-class and mostly Maori and Pacific Islander community like GI, this is an economic and ethnic cleansing of the suburb.
Privatizing land that Housing New Zealand state homes sit on is a clear indication that the government wants to privatize the social housing system that generations of New Zealanders have fought for. This is unacceptable while there are thousands of desperate families on a waiting list for a state home that they can afford to pay rent to. The cutting back of the number and quality of state houses in New Zealand comes at a time of high unemployment, low wages and harsh austerity cuts. This is the time when the social housing systems needs to be strengthened, not attacked.
Deregulation opens up all kinds of worrying possibilities. Deregulation was at the roots of the leaky homes crisis, and the stress and financial hardship that took a toll on so many families across the country is the reason why such extensive red-tape exists around building consents and regulations.
There will be a Housing Crisis kakoi to Wellington on the 6th November, with groups around the North Island meeting at Civic Square 12pm 7th November to march on Parliament
Press Release – Tamaki Housing Group
Protestors have laid complaints with the Independent Police Conduct Authority following the escalation of police brutality towards those protesting against the removal of state houses in Glen Innes.
One complaint addresses the excessive use of force by the police during protests over the last two weeks, including multiple injuries sustained by protestors including two severe concussions, broken fingers and deep bruising.
Another complaint outlines concerns regarding the police breaching their duties in failing to wear badge numbers so they can be identified by protestors at night and breach of the right to freedom of speech and right of assembly.
Earlier this year, protestors at the Glen Innes house evictions had similar injuries including veteran activists John Minto and Jimmy O’Dea.
For six months protestors have been picketing the weekly house removals from Glen Innes, getting arrested and then released without charge. Only a handful of charges have been made, out of over forty arrests in the last few months. In the last month, two of them have been banned from the entire Glen Innes suburb, a bail condition designed specifically to prevent them from the civil right to protest.
GI resident, Makelesi Ngata says, “last Tuesday protestors occupied Len Brown’s office and police acted very differently to how they do in GI at nighttime. They aren’t there to look after us, they’re there to protect the government’s plan to destroy our community.”
Protestors 22 year old Ella-Grace and 20 year old Cate Bell, who last week both received a concussion at the hands of police officers and both ending up in hospital say, “violence against us is getting worse – its a dark day for a nation when you see cops arrive on the scene and you feel scared!”
On Thursday, Bell was knocked unconscious when officers pushed her onto the road. Footage shows two police cars driving past failing to stop while the girl’s friends attempted to keep her conscious in the middle of Lunn Road. Fellow protestors rung an ambulance and she was taken to hospital and treated for concussion.
Auckland Police spokesperson Noreen Hegarty last week told the media, “we absolutely believed we acted professionally” and no injuries had been reported to police. Ngata says, “to think we would complain about the assault to the same people who assaulted us is bizarre – how can we be expected to trust the police after the assaults we have received and witnessed from them?”
The Tamaki Housing Action Group has been fighting against the removal of houses, eviction of families and destruction of their community. The agreement signed by Mayor Len Brown and the Minister of Housing Phil Heatley in August has seen the formation of the Tamaki Redevelopment Company which serves to gentrify the working-class suburb of mostly Pasifika and Maori families. THAG says this is pulling apart their community for the purpose of privatizing houses owned by the public.
In solidarity with the Glen Innes residents fighting to keep their homes, a group has occupied Mayor Len Brown’s office in the Auckland Town Hall and are hanging a banner from the top of the Town Hall with the message “Tamaki is a Community not a Company”.
Early today protesters stormed the Mayor’s office to demand a stop to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company which Brown signed with the Minister of Housing in August.
“Glen Innes is a community, not a company. The benefits our people, especially our young people, get from belonging to a strong community like GI – these benefits should never be sold for short-term profits,” says GI resident Makelesi Ngata.
Labour, the Greens and Mana have all called for a morotorium on the ongoing evictions and removal of houses from the community, a process carried out against the will of and without consultation from the community, and violently by large numbers of police and paddy wagons every week.
A protest group has criticised the lack of consultation by Auckland Council and the Government in setting up the Tamaki Redevelopment Company.
Press Release – Tamaki Housing Group
It is an absolute farce that suburbs Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure have been placed under The Tamaki Redevelopment Company with no consultation whatsoever from the residents and rate payers in these areas where there is a one to one ratio of home owners/tenants.
The Tamaki Redevelopment Company is no more than a Trojan horse for a property developer fuelled land grab. It is an undesirable experiment in the form of an imported failed social housing policy from the United Kingdom.
Optimising land use equates to high rise intensified compounds (zone 8) and charity housing.
The Tamaki Housing Group wants The Heads of Agreement that was signed behind closed doors (24th July 2012) by The Mayor and Housing Minister to be rescinded immediately.
Protest Saturday 8th September 10.30am Line Road, Glen Innes.
Press Release – Quality Housing For All
Police arrested four students protesting against Glen Innes housing evictions late last night.
Students supporting the Tamaki Housing Action Group were peacefully protesting outside a house being removed by truck from Apirana St. Housing New Zealand has been evicting residents from their own community, many who have lived there for decades. Over the last six months there have been large numbers of paddy wagons and officers on the streets in Glen Innes, a tactic devised specifically to intimidate residents and keep them from resisting the destruction of their community.
The four were picked up by their throats and necks by police officers and charged with obstruction. One of them, Rachel said, “we were charged with obstructing a public place, but there were three paddy-wagons, two police cars and an overkill of police officers – they were obstructing the street, we were just sitting in it!”
Meanwhile on Taniwha St, residents assembled outside number 16 Taniwha St as it was being removed. There were four police cars blocking the streets, and one police wagon full of cops inside. Resident Nicki says, “we negotiated with the cops. We wanted to walk the house out of our street as a mark of respect to the elderly lady who lived there.” The elderly woman resided at number 16 for over sixty years and died soon after being coerced out of her home. “We wanted to show respect to the others who died in our street recently after Housing New Zealand told them they had to move out in May-June of this year,” Nicki added.
16 Taniwha is the first of seven homes to be removed on Taniwha St. There is a housing shortage all over the country, but the government is continuing to privatize public houses set aside after the Great Depression and the Second World War for the families of pensioners and families in need. With unemployment rising and an unlivable minimum wage, the numbers of families in need are increasing.
Supporters of the Glen Innes community and all those opposed to state intimidation of the community are encouraged to make contact with the ‘Call to Action – Housing in Glen Innes’ facebook page. Join the resistance against the decline in living standards by fighting back against unjust evictions and fight to provide quality housing that is accessible to all.
Press Release – Mana Party
Housing New Zealand has put off handing out final eviction notices to the Glen Innes tenants affected by government redevelopment plans for at least six months.
“A six-month delay in the first stage of the Glen Innes redevelopment is a victory for the gutsy tenants of this war-torn suburb who have resisted the social-cleansing of their community every step of the way” says MANA Vice President John Minto.
Earlier this year the first group of “affected” Housing New Zealand tenants were told they could expect final eviction notices in May 2012. However in an email from Housing New Zealand to MANA Vice-President John Minto this has now been put back to “… late-2012 or even early-2013 depending on how the project progresses”.
“It’s clear to us the government doesn’t want scenes of Maori and Pacifika families dragged from the homes they have lived in for decades and for which they have paid the equivalent of a mortgage several times over”.
Meanwhile the developers are worried they face another Bastion Point.
“This is the last piece of waterfront real estate anywhere on the Waitemata Harbour where low-income families can enjoy a great family neighbourhood by the sea. Like most low-income communities the people of Glen Innes need jobs but the government’s first priority is to boot them from their homes in the National-held Tamaki electorate”.
MANA is continuing to call for a moratorium on state house removals from Glen Innes so the community can be re-engaged and the numerous promises (outlined below) can be addressed.
“We are pleased Labour Party and the Greens also support a moratorium”.
In 2008 the government announced plans to redevelop Glen Innes in what was called the Tamaki Transformation Project.
Repeated promises were made to the community about the redevelopment such as from the former Chair of the Tamaki Establishment Board telling the Glen Innes community on 24 July 2008 (HNZ Minutes):
“There will be no requirement at all for any existing tenant in any state house to move out of the area as a result of anything that occurs here. There will be no reduction in state houses as a result of anything that occurs here.”
Then again in September 2008 the Tamaki Transformation Project newsletter said one of the objectives of the redevelopment was:
“Maintaining the number of state houses in the area but undertaking a major refurbishment and rebuilding plan for them”
And again in a newsletter to the community in October 2008 Pat Snedden again reassured the people of Glen Innes –
“The plan will be for…security of existing state housing tenancy for residents in the area”.
The Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples gave similar reassurances last year at a public meeting in Glen Innes.
“Based on these assurances, the community backed the thrust of the redevelopment only to now find they have been betrayed” says Minto.
The first stage of the redevelopment will see state house numbers reduced from 156 to 78 and the National/Act/Maori Party government has said it intends to significantly reduce overall state house numbers in Glen Innes as part of this redevelopment project.
“This is social cleansing on a grand scale. Is it any wonder community members are angry and determined to fight back?”
Press Release – Tamaki Housing Group
This week, parliament resumed after a recess and predictably there was an appalling attack on state house tenants during the parliamentary question time.
The Housing Minister Phil Heatley had the temerity (by implication) to dismiss the elderly, the disabled and families with young children, as ‘gang members’ to justify forcing them from their homes in the Glen Innes North Land Grab. This insult came over loud and clear in the context of a question asked.
This dreadful reply came from a question ask by Hone Harawira (MP). He asked the minister a very valid question about assurances given to state tenants that this removal of tenants from their long time homes would not happen. The effected A and B areas were the newer part of the Tamaki Transformation Project in the first place.
The Tamaki Housing Group wants an immediate moratorium on any future house removals and state house tenants being coerced out of their homes.
25th January 2012
Press release: Tamaki Housing Group
Since the 156 state house tenants households in Glen Inness North received letters from Housing NZ threatening the future of their homes, this issue has taken on a life of its own.
It appears the entire area (Tamaki) will become a construction site. This scorched earth approach is nothing more than property developers land grab.
After many years of due process, which was ignored by council (mid 2000’s) district plan change ‘61’ was introduced and is now operative. Area ‘A and area ‘B’ mentioned in the September Housing NZ News Letter to tenants was never in the Glen Inness renewable project. Area ‘A’ was applicable to the 4-story road frontage and area ‘B’ was for 5 stories on the old Tamaki Girls College site.
The Tamaki Housing Group point out the present area ‘A’ and ‘B’ are tacked onto and added to the renewal project that then appeared from nowhere in September. We should see these A & B areas removed from the planning process immediately as they were never part of the Glen Innes Renewable Plan.
20 December 2011
PRESS RELEASE: Tamaki Housing Group:
“Almost on the eve of Christmas, the manipulated underhandedness continues where it is intended for three of the shortlisted private developer companies to submit proposals to Housing NZ which would result in homes being bulldozed and the State Housing stock halved from 156 to 78.
“*The shortlisted groups are required to submit Development Proposals by 22 December 2011. They are:*
– *Arrow International / Hopper Developments Limited / Southside Group Consortium*
– *AV Jennings Limited / Universal Homes / Canam Construction / URBIS Joint Venture*
– *Todd Property Group Limited / Ngati Whatua Joint Proposal”*
If this proceeds, some of the most vulnerable families in the community will be devastated, including the elderly with life-threatening illnesses, others with severe disabilities, returned servicemen and families with small children.
Why should these fine New Zealanders have this intimidatory stress forced upon them under the cloak of Christmas?
Right from the outset, Area “A” and all of Area “B” were never included in the Glen Innes Renewal Project.
This is an abuse of the democratic process.
This proposal that has been dumped on State tenants in September 2011, should not proceed, and be withdrawn immediately.”