Maori and Pacifika families on low-incomes are to be shunted out to make way for McMansions for the rich around the lovely Tamaki estuary.
And so yesterday morning Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Housing Minister Nick Smith met in Glen Innes to launch a “draft blueprint” for the redevelopment of Tamaki. The meeting was not advertised to avoid protest from local residents but with last minute notice a group of locals turned up to hold Brown, Smith, their property developer mates and hand-picked local collaborators to account.
The redevelopment is already well underway but community resistance and anger is growing and this latest “launch” (there have been several so far) is yet another attempt to override and stiffle local opposition.
Last week a protest against three state houses being moved saw local residents hurl dozens of large wheelie bins across the road in front of the trucks while a large police contingent tried to manage community anger.
In launching the blueprint Len Brown said “the challenge now is to ensure new homes and economic development are delivered in a way that supports the aspirations of local residents and builds strong and resilient communities.” Yeah right.
There is already a community in Glen Innes but Brown’s plans are to dismember it. The first stage involves halving the number of state houses from 156 to 78 and is already well underway.
Brown talks a lot about the need for affordable housing but this redevelopment will bring LESS affordable housing as income-related rentals are replaced with market rents for some of the most vulnerable families in Auckland.
Greedy developers are salivating over their glossy plans which will bring rich pickings from privatised land formerly housing state tenants.
Led by Martin Udale of Cranleigh merchant bankers the developers are preparing to gorge themselves on windfall profits from privatising state land. They think they are in developer heaven but I think their problems are only just beginning.
Once upon a time Len Brown would have been a champion of the low-income families in Glen Innes but he’s now a champion of the National Party’s plans to change GI into Remuera-by-the-Sea.
Low-income families are to be forced out of the area altogether or moved to clustered, high-rise apartments near the town centre which will look like an urban slum in five years.
All the locals accept that the Tamaki area needs investment and redevelopment but the current plans are nothing more than relocation of the poor to benefit the rich.
The only sensible way forward is for Brown and Smith to eat some humble pie and agree to a moratorium on the housing redevelopment to allow time for re-engagement and negotiation on what is appropriate to support and sustain the existing Glen Innes community.
The protests are led by a staunch group of local Maori and Pacifika women and Len Brown would be wise to stop trampling on their whanau.
I think the mayor and the government have bitten off more than they can chew.