Poor housing awaits students
Owners do nothing
Living conditions in the student hostels on the old Kenepuru Hospital grounds are ‘‘disgusting’’, says one occupant, despite its owners being given up to $1 million to refurbish the property last year.
Richard Rei says he is concerned that the new influx of students looking for accommodation when polytechnics start back this month may be lured into poor housing.
In the last six months he says about 100 people have left the block of flats, run by his nephews Howard Metekingi and Ariel Metekingi, who own Kenepuru International Trading, because of the low standard of living.
‘‘They don’t do anything for the residents. I live in these residences and if I want anything done, I do it myself. I’ve had to do up the whole place myself. The flats are very, very shoddy. You see people walking around with a beer in their hand, cars everywhere, smashed doors, smashed windows, broken light fixtures . . . they [ tenants] leave, and the place is all ripped up, and the Metekingis do nothing about it.’’
He says in April last year the Metekingis and two other representatives from the hostel met with former Whitireia Independent Students Association (Wisa) president Loretta Ryder, to promote the properties on Upper and Lower Main Dr as a suitable accommodation option for students.
Ms Ryder is currently under investigation after $700,000 worth of Wisa funds were found to be missing in May last year.
Mr Rei claims ‘‘ close to $ 1 million’’ had been given to Howard Metekingi from Wisa to upgrade the flats. The Metekingis and Ms Ryder could not be reached for comment.
According to an audit of Wisa there was a payment of $18,200 to Kenepuru International but there was no valid tax invoice and no account of what the money was for. A deposit of $8000 was made in advance, for works to be carried out from 2010 till 2011.
Ms Ryder and her family were living at the hostels with student vice-president Tai Te Karu while they were both on the executive.
Current Wisa president Mahia Fuimaono, who was part of the previous executive committee, says she was unaware of any dealings with the Metekingis but had heard ‘‘some stories that whoever the money was given to took off with it’’.
She says people regularly offer rooms for rent and the student association tries to match students with appropriate accommodation.
Mr Rei says roughly 200 residents live in the flats which were originally intended as student hostels. ‘‘The people that are living here are people with nowhere else to go. Housing New Zealand has turned them away because for most of them booze is their first priority. But for what they’re paying the conditions are disgusting.’’
One-bedroom units with shared facilities at the hospital grounds rent for between $140 and $320 per week, he says.