24 May 2024

$2 billion Kāinga Ora programme buys three pieces of land, but no construction confirmed

8:25 am on 24 May 2024
Building in Christchurch, Moorhouse Ave

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

A $2 billion Kāinga Ora programme has bought three pieces of land to develop over three years, but no construction dates are confirmed.

The Kāinga Ora Land Programme allows the agency to borrow up to $2 billion for land purchases and development costs.

Documents released under the Official Information Act show since the programme was established in 2021, the agency had spent $86.7 million to acquire three pieces of land.

These were the 95.3-hectare Ferncliffe Farm in Tauranga, a 2016m2 site in Wellington's Adelaide Road and 3.68-hectare site in Quaifies Road in Christchurch.

An extra $1.9 million had been spent on development, feasibility and planning works.

Kāinga Ora said the projects were still in the design and planning stages and no construction dates had been scheduled.

The agency said once a site had been purchased, it was required to complete and seek approval of a more detailed business case, before going to the market for a preferred development partner.

"Only once we have contracted a development partner and have the relevant permissions in place, land development and construction can begin."

It was working through this process for the three sites.

It comes after the government's probe into the state housing provider, which made mention of the land programme, was released on Monday.

The probe found the remit for Kāinga Ora was broad and had been increased since its establishment, with new funding streams such as the land programme contributing to that.

It also noted stakeholders' claims of anecdotal examples that the agency had paid above market value for land, resulting in it potentially not being viable to develop.

When asked by RNZ whether the land programme projects were subject to that issue, Housing Minister Chris Bishop said a new Kāinga Ora chair had been appointed as part of a turnaround plan for the agency, which was set to be complete by November.

"We expect careful consideration to be given to investments such as these."

RNZ reported last week that nearly 1300 homes - including 690 KiwiBuild homes - were put on hold by Kāinga Ora following the announcement of the government review.

KiwiBuild was established in 2018 by the previous Labour government as a flagship policy, with the initial goal of building 100,000 homes over 10 years.

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