Move to alleviate Far North housing crisis

3:38 pm on 21 December 2018

A Northland housing provider wants to relocate hundreds of homes from Auckland by Christmas next year to solve the crippling housing crisis in the Far North.

Ricky Houghton, chief executive of He Korowai Trust in Kaitaia, has saved more than 550 houses from mortgagee sales in the Far North.

Ricky Houghton, chief executive of He Korowai Trust in Kaitaia, has saved more than 550 houses from mortgagee sales in the Far North. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Ricky Hougton from He Korowai Trust wants to ramp up housing relocation efforts and employ local apprentices to help him do it.

Hildegard Wi Parata isn't sure if she'll get to see her family this Christmas - but she's thankful she's got a roof over her head.

She's just moved into emergency housing at He Korowai Trust in Kaitaia.

"I haven't had a decent sleep for a couple of weeks the stress has been real you know sleeping in my car I've had a stuffed up leg I've had to have my leg out the window.

"I've got my dog have him outside to make sure mum's alright in the car."

Ms Wi Parata moved from Kawakawa to Kaitaia to seek support from the trust and says many people staying there have similar stories.

"I'm just grateful I've got a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in a shower, toilet - it's amazing."

Ricky Hougton is the chief executive of He Korowai Trust in Kaitaia, which runs out of a renovated hotel and has nine cabins, 35 emergency rooms and a men's clinic.

The trust has restored 22 condemned houses in the Far North community of Te Hapua and now has a staff of more than 30 people.

In the past year, eight families have been moved into the homes and although Mr Houghton said it's a small number - it's a start.

"It was gonna take another eight needy families who were living in some of the most horrible living conditions cow sheds, busses, lean-tos, overcrowded living conditions into the bottom rung of home ownership."

The Sweet-As Training academy set up through the trust in 2017 has trained 56 apprentices - more than double the numbers first expected.

Mr Houghton now wants to start his own moving company and employ apprentices to lower the cost of moving houses from Auckland.

By Christmas 2019, he wanted to relocate 150 houses earmarked for demolition from Auckland to Northland.

"I need $15 million or the cost of 15 Auckland houses to kick-start the housing pro that I would like to develop and deliver in Northland over the next five years."

Mr Houghton says he wants to empower whānau when it comes to their housing.

"I can break the chains of state dependance of or these families, move them into independence reconnect their umbilical chord back to their families and their natural supports.

And Hildergard Wi Parata said He Korowai Trust needs all the support it can get, so it can meet the housing need in the Far North.

"When you've got nowhere to go, or nowhere to call home everything's a mess - but this is what's given me hope a reason to carry on - kia kaha be strong and keep moving."