EXCLUSIVE: Vanessa Kururangi – State Housing Action Inc to take Government to Court over privatisation of State Houses

28
3

Screen-Shot-2016-05-27-at-11.19.10-am

The Fight – Vanessa Kururangi

“Cradle, wahakura, bassinette, cot

All of the things that a carseat is not

Nurturing, snug, a baby’s delight

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

A car is no place for our  babies at night

These are the thoughts that run through my head

And keeps me awake as I lie in my bed…

In a home where it’s warm, when it’s raining and dark

Not a tent or a van, in the cold at a park

Yet this is our shame, our sin that we hide

This is the crest of the crisis we ride

These are the thoughts that run through my head

And keeps me awake as  I lie in my bed…

Where newborn babes and kaumatua  alike

Sleep rough and abandoned, uncared for at night

The root of the cause  is denied from the top

Where help and support is given the chop

These are the thoughts that run through my head

And keeps me awake as  I lie in my bed…

So what do we do when valour doth burn

To save our own people, to ensure the tides turn

We fight and we fight and we fight yet again

We fight for our children, our elderly and then

We fight for our sick, our injured, our poor

We call on our tupuna and then fight some more

These are the thoughts that run through my head

And keeps me awake as  I lie in my bed…”

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 1.25.22 pm

I’ve confessed in a previous blog that I’m a creative writer, not a political commentator. It doesn’t make my voice any less relevant than the next persons – just different. And as we begin to peel back the layers of the Machiavellian behaviour of this government in regards to (well, pick any issue, but) housing, it becomes starkly obvious that the more voices we have the better. Working in harmony with others isn’t an easy feat – one I’ve struggled with personally these past few weeks. As I’ve discussed and debated with fellow comrades in an attempt to make headway on yet another initiative to tackle the housing crisis, I’ve come to realise that we all want the same outcomes, we just have different ideas on how to get there.

Last week, on behalf of some S.H.A.N groups, we filed an application to become incorporated. It was approved on Monday 8th August, and this group will now be  known as S.H.A Inc. (State Housing Action Incorporated).  As mentioned above we still have S.H.A.N groups who are autonomous, but as of this week, I am a proud, fully fledged member of S.H.A Inc. I encourage you all to join!

So what has brought this change? Well basically, because shit just got real! On Friday, the government announced that the preferred buyer for State Homes in Tauranga is Accessible Properties. Whilst they have a good track record of providing social housing for people with additional needs, they really need to stick with what they know. Of course we have (mostly self-appointed) Iwi leaders, and Māori leaders within our community who have jumped on board to support Accessible Properties bid, but how these leaders came to the conclusion that they speak FOR Māori tenants when they haven’t spoken TO Māori tenants baffles me. They do not speak FOR any of the Maori whānau in state homes that I know because they haven’t spoken WITH them. They have just operated on a “I know what is best” level and decided that they would tautoko the process of tendering for these homes. Why? Because they want to play with the big kids. They want a cut of the deal, not realising, or perhaps not caring, about the long term effects it will have on our whānau.  I may seem harsh, but this is my truth as it falls from my mouth. They are being used. Used by big corporations to tick the “brown” box. And when push comes to shove, and their support is no longer needed, or becomes inconvenient, these Maori trusts, consortiums, and groups WILL be disposed of without a second thought. And I will feel no empathy for them. They have helped big private investors to tender for homes which the government has no business selling.

These homes are ours. They belong to us. All of us. And I’m bloody angry. I’m angry because there is no evidence that privatising state owned assets will in any way solve the housing crisis. I’m angry because OIA requests sent to Bill English will take so long to be responded to that the damn houses could be sold off before we get answers. I’m angry because the transfer of practically every state home in Tauranga fails to meet the Social Housing Reform Objectives (s.50D of the Housing Corporation Act 1974). I’m angry that the successful (“preferred”) tender (Accessible Properties) seems to have no obligation to show innovation or active responsibility to social housing – in other words, they don’t have to prove how they will be better than the services we currently have. I’m angry about a whole lot of stuff that my heart and head knows is just plain wrong.

So, what can we do? Do we just get angry, stomp our feet and fume about how homelessness will inevitably increase? Do we worry and fret about how we are going to support those who will struggle further financially, and fall deeper into the poverty trap? Do we spend the next ten, fifteen, twenty years of our lives fretting about the health, wellbeing and security of our children and mokopuna? Do we give up?  No. Giving up and bending over for this government is not an option as long as I still have a breath inside me.

S.H.A Inc is going to continue to push back against what we know is wrong. Selling our state homes will have a devastating effect on our country. It will be a cold day in whatever kind of Hell you can imagine before I will throw in the towel. I’m not going to tantrum about it. That’s wasted energy. I will simply say this: we have marched. We have protested. We have had public meetings. We have had tenant support meetings. We have spoken to M.P’s – some of whom have been extremely helpful and supportive, and some who choose to not hear  us because their rectum was contracted too tightly around their ears. We’ve been reasonable, approachable, and open to having solution based korero about the desperate need for quality housing, increasing the number of available homes, tenants rights, and keeping these homes affordable for all. We have tried. So where to from here?

State Housing Action Incorporated (S.H.A Inc.) now officially announces our intention to file for a Judicial Review with the High Court of New Zealand, against the sale of State Houses in Tauranga.

Yes, you heard it here first. We have a dedicated, passionate, experienced team of lawyers, and we are taking this to court. This has not been a decision made lightly, but now that we are committed to doing this, we are going to put every ounce of energy we have into bringing this cursed selloff to a halt! Believe me when I say that there are probably a million other things I (we) could be doing with my (our) time. But this really matters. It’s important to speak out strongly against what is going to adversely affect many generations to come. Those teens and twenty-somethings who are searching for Pokémon today, will be searching for homes tomorrow. Their chances of finding Pokémon is far higher.

I have been absolutely fizzing to share this news with you, and finally I can. I will sleep well tonight, knowing we will continue to push back. We are not going to fade away. We do it because we know we are not alone. We do it because win or lose, it’s the right thing to do – standing staunch for the most vulnerable in our communities is never wrong. I hope you will stand staunch alongside us. Because “these are the thoughts that run through my head,  and keeps me awake as  I lie in my bed”.

 

Vanessa Kururangi is a State House Tenant Advocate

CisYCoOVAAI02rS.jpg-large

28 COMMENTS

  1. Please can we make it a “class action” case as we all are part owners in NZ Housing Properties?

    This could be the spark that ignites a destruction of this criminal carpetbagger Government!!!!!!

    Let us all make the case a game changer please my family are all in.

  2. The organisation that wishes to take over the State houses in Tauranga, “Accessible Properties” is owned by IHC – the well known, and until now, respected provider of services for people with intellectual disabilities.

    The prominent claim of IHC is that they “will advocate for the rights, inclusion and welfare of all people with intellectual disabilities.” Unfortunately their advocacy does not seem to extend to State house tenants in Tauranga. They have not consulted with any tenants about their proposal, nor have they even bothered to attend any meetings of Tenants and their supporters. If they had they would have realised how the tenants feel about their proposal. They would then also recognise the extent of support that tenants have from others in the community – including local churches, gp’s and other health professionals, and others in the community. People who up until now have been natural allies of IHC.

    IHC are intending to “buy” the houses at a bargain, below market price, in what they are hoping will be a secret deal. They have been advised that they cannot lose, because, even if they fail as landlords, at some stage they can sell the houses off at the true market value, and keep the substantial profits. They recognise that many of the properties are in prime or potentially prime areas eg Merivale (Parkvale), next to the water – which would fetch premium prices, should they be sold off en bloc. They also recognise that the government is desperate to get rid of the properties for political reasons, particularly after the failure to find anyone to purchase the homes in Invercargill. They recognise that Tauranga is a city that is growing rapidly, and where house prices are rocketing. They believe and have been advised that they are in a WIN WIN situation.

    However, all of their assumptions are based on their being no or minimal opposition to their moves. If a campaign of disinvestment in IHC were to be established and gain traction, then their assumptions may prove to be incorrect.

    Their own staff, most of whom have been kept in the dark, about this matter, might start to ask challenging questions – like:

    “Why have we not been told about this?”
    “Why have we not consulted with the affected tenants?”
    “How does this fit into our core objectives?”
    “Why have the Salvation Army (who know far more than we do about this area of work) pulled out, and do not wish to be involved?”
    “Why is our fund raising less successful than it used to be?”

    IHC believe that their new “friends” in the government will bail them out should things not go according to plan. However, their political naivety, could be their undoing. They are meddling in areas in which they have little, if any experience. They should recognise that State house tenants do not want to be used as political pawns by a charity that sees them as a cash cow.

    They would do well to learn the lessons of history before they squander the good name and reputation of their organisation.

    John Rothery (Tauranga)

    • I know of OIA requests that were declined and are lying at the Office of Ombudsmen waiting to be “resolved” for up to 3 years now! This government has been under-funding the Ombudsmen Office and other watchdog offices for years, has put pressure on Chief Executives and through them on other public servants to not challenge their bosses (Ministers, i.e. government), and thus silenced all dissent.

      At times I feel we live in a highly sophisticated authoritarian kind of state, similar to a dictatorship, where most sadly do not even realise what goes on.

      • Yes frank so do I feel now as we are ruled by a dictatorship, pity the media don’t call time out on this authoritarian regime of SS SS Joyce/Key/Beglish.

  3. Your initiative is all good but you need to get some of your background research right. There is no point in quoting the 1974 Housing Corporation Act. Housing Corporation no longer exists – it was carved up in the early 1990s by the then National Government, so the Housing Corporation Act 1974 would have been repealed then. That Government at that time restructured Housing Corporation into Housing New Zealand. That ‘reform’ at that time was done to achieve two things – first, to allow the sell-off of state houses and second to put a stop to the Housing Corporation (government sponsored loans) that were available then to low-income and first home buyers to build a home, or purchase an existing one. The National Government of the 1990s sold off thousands of state houses and the portfolios of Housing Corporation mortgages were parcelled up and sold off to the private sector in three tranches as part of the asset sales programme during the 1990s. When the Labour Government got into power in 1999-2008, they stopped the sale of state houses, but now National is in power again, they have started selling off state houses again. This National Government is following through on the agenda that was started in the early 1990s by the National Government then – which is to get out of state housing.

    • Can you please give me evidence to show where the corp act was repealed? I DID research and it hasn’t been repealed as far as I can find. If you can point me in the right direction I’ll be happy to stand corrected. If not, then thank you for your very long comment, but it really isn’t necessary – but thank you for taking the time to read and respond to the blog anyway.

    • Thank you for your feedback. Can you please show me where it has been repealed because I cannot confirm this anywhere? As far as I am aware it hasn’t been but I’m happy to stand corrected if you can show me where to find this info. As stated, I am a creative writer, not a political commentator. I am also in the thick of it advocating for tenants here in Tauranga. You are welcome to join us!

  4. I share your concerns, feel just as furious, and wish you the best of luck with your judicial review application.

  5. Vanessa,

    In Gisborne the same thing is happening also!!!

    Yesterday a supporter was calling me disturbed as she went to the normal areas of GIsborne to rent a home for her and her family and partner, and found the rent that a year ago was $250 is now $380 a week.

    So she went to a cheaper suburb and found that what used to be a Housing NZ state house street with all Hosing NZ homes have quietly now been sold off for a pittance at $65 000 to -$70 000 each for a three bedroom home!!!!!!

    And no body knew this was going on.

    This is a rort by those inside national party by Stealth stealing these public properties for almost nothing now, so we need the issue contested in Court now because this is criminal stealing from the state and we need to find these evil thief’s and weed them out and charge them with “misappropriation of public property.”

  6. YES, am I glad to see this happening. Thank you State Housing Action Incorporated, thank you, you will find you will have a lot of support !!!

  7. This maybe the action the people of New Zealand need to see put against such a cowardly Government led by an even cowardlier leader.
    Your actions are highly praised. I wish you well. Be proud and hold your heads up high.

  8. Thanks everyone. Donations to help file papers and other ongoing costs will be gratefully accepted and deeply appreciated. You may contribute to:

    Account name: State Housing Action Inc.

    Kiwibank account No: 38 9018 0028715 00

    I don’t know anyone who has won lotto over the weekend, so please don’t feel oblidged – there are many ways in which you can contribute and show your support.
    For example, if you feel inclined please email IHC/Accessible Properties and express your disappointment in this move. Refuse to donate to this charity. Share these blogs far and wide across social media and ask your friends to koha. Email me ideas of how we could raise more funds, or just keep sending me messages of encouragement (it will mean the World to me when not so nice people try to discredit my truth). Together we can do this, I really believe we are unbreakable united!

    Sincerely,

    Vanessa.

  9. Housing NZ is LYING when it said “it sells properties it can’t find tenants for and that have got high maintenance costs and uses the money to build more suitable houses in areas that people do want to live in.”

    Housing NZ has been turfing tenants out of their homes and have either demolished blocks of state housing (as in Trentham for example) or removed/sold (as in Glenn Innes for example). State houses have also been put on the market and sold while still tenanted (Wellington). Another way and this has been highlighted in the media, the National government removes tenants and then lets the houses sit empty with bogus excuses including questionable P contamination reasons for not tenanting them for around a year or so before selling them off.

    Housing NZ is LYING when it said “It gets properties valued before it sells them.”
    Prior to its revamping of it’s website later this year, the batch of houses HNZ sold off last year up until the beginning of this year had 2008 valuations.

    Bennett/National also lied when it said 4,000 state homes have been sold to first home buyers, the number is way lower than that, even HNZ own website only shows 100 in 2014. It was telling that HNZ didn’t have a more updated figure and it’s clear that they are hiding a lot of information that they don’t want the public to know about.

    Phil Twyford is right in his assertions….

    State houses being sold cheaply: Twyford

    https://nz.news.yahoo.com/top-stories/a/32325292/state-houses-being-sold-cheaply-twyford/#page1

    • Thanks WORDS

      “Housing NZ is LYING when it said “It gets properties valued before it sells them.” Prior to its revamping of its website later this year, the batch of houses HNZ sold off last year up until the beginning of this year had 2008 valuations.”

      This sounds awfully like what happened in Christchurch after the 2011 earthquakes, where houses were valued at 2007 valuations for ‘insurance and EQC purposes’.

      This economic bullshittery wasn’t even questioned, when the National Govt just wiped off 4 years of improvements and capital gains from assets, with the stroke of a pen, to keep their books balanced in preparation for a tax cuts for the wealthy and to keep corporate insurance smiling all the way to the underwriters. Just as bad was the “priority list” for celebs and National Party acolytes to have their houses fixed first.

      Sounds Orwellian to me and these scumbags are creating reality and even inventing “housing affordability time-travel”. The next set of Govt cars will be Deloreans, not BMW’s

      The past was erased
      The erasure forgotten
      The lie became truth.
      1984 – George Orwell

      If the Christchurch valuations scam/fraud is legal, why doesn’t the Government just legislate the cost of houses down to 2012 valuations. It would be a good fix leading up the the 2017 elections to a time when more houses were “affordable”. Think of the number of affordable houses at 2012 valuations could be bought with impending tax cuts?

  10. Great job Vanessa and there will be lots of support.
    Would be nice to find a good pro bono solicitor to look into a class action suit and get the ball rolling big time with lots of weight and power.

    This govt. is way beyond being ” out to lunch. ” Those are our homes. Greedy Idiots.

  11. Loving your work, and support all that you do. We need to stop this kind of behaviour before we have nothing to fight for.
    Slowly but surely New Zealand will slip away into private owners hands and this government will sell it right from underneath us.

    • Kia ora Nathan,
      Thanks for your tautoko. You’ve known me for so many years now, so you know that the place I come from is authentic. I have nothing to gain from this except knowing I’ve done everything I can to protect our children, and our future moko’s, which actually is everything 🙂 Lovely to hear from you… hope all’s well!
      Nessa.

  12. Kia kaha Vanessa.

    Aditya Chakrabortty wrote an article in the Guardian called “You’re witnessing the death of neoliberalism – from within”
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/31/witnessing-death-neoliberalism-imf-economists

    “IMF economists have published a remarkable paper admitting that the ideology was oversold and that neoliberalism has been thoroughly discredited. So some food for thought for your lawyers:

    Selling off New Zealand state houses in the name of the neoliberal ‘idealology’ is therefore based on a flawed agenda and premise, which are now being widely discredited.

    If it brings about a slowdown, or halt to state house asset sales, great. What would be better, would be taking charges of treason against, and theft from, the people of New Zealand who owned the assets already sold, and the state houses currently being lined up for sale.

    Some time spent on remand, for politicians and neoliberal conspirators in the treason and theft, inside a SERCO-run prison, would be sweet irony.

    I’d pay a Sky Pay-per-view subscription to see a weekly SERCO fight-club featuring the Rogernomes, Rogernomics founders and acolytes fighting against the victims of their failed neoliberal bullshit theory.

    Good luck with your action.

    I’d also pay to help you through a crowd funding site. Now that the Rogernomes have started the process of crowd-funding/userpays to buy back DOC estate (Awaroa Beach ), they’ve set the precedent for crowd-funding to foil greed and corruption.

    Please direct me to a crowd-funding site to fund your action, like the Awaroa Beach one, once it is set up.

Comments are closed.