Safety tears community up

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

The Cas­tor Loop community will be ripped apart by un­ex­pected Hous­ing New Zealand evic­tions to strengthen or de­mol­ish earth­quake-prone state houses, ten­ants say.

Forty-four Porirua ten­ants in nine build­ings have been told their homes are vul­ner­a­ble to a quake and they need to move out within 90 days. Twenty-six of the ten­ants are in Ti­tahi Bay, 14 in Can­nons Creek and three else­where in Porirua.

All are in two-storey, three-unit build­ings which have brick walls be­tween units and are fur­ther com­pro­mised by brick chim­neys, old foun­da­tions and their lo­ca­tion, says Hous­ing New Zealand project stake­holder man­ager Hope Si­mon­sen.

The build­ings meet less than 20 per cent of code, and will be brought up to 67 per cent.

Strength­en­ing will take three to six months, but houses that can­not reach code will be de­mol­ished, Mrs Si­mon­sen says.

Ten­ants are be­ing re­housed throughout Porirua by Hous­ing New Zealand, which will cover mov­ing costs.

Half have been found new homes al­ready.

‘‘We wouldn’t wish this on our­selves. We would rather a slow, mea­sured, strate­gic way but we haven’t got that lux­ury, un­for­tu­nately,’’ Mrs Si­mon­sen says.

‘‘Safety is the most im­por­tant thing. We don’t want to leave ten­ants in a house which is a po­ten­tial earth­quake risk.’’

The evic­tion of Cas­tor Loop house­holds is the third blow in re­cent years for the be­lea­guered Can­nons Creek community. Three years ago, 27 age­ing prop­er­ties were de­mol­ished in the Loop, os­ten­si­bly to be re­placed by ei­ther pri­vate or so­cial hous­ing, but no de­vel­op­ers have taken the project on and the land re­mains empty.

The neigh­bour­hood has also put up with empty, fire-dam­aged state houses left in dis­re­pair, says the Rus­sell School board of trus­tees chair­man, Matt Craw­shaw.

Mr Craw­shaw and Rus­sell School prin­ci­pal Sose An­nan­dale or­gan­ised a community meet­ing last Tues­day night, at­tended by 20 state house ten­ants, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Hous­ing New Zealand and community lead­ers.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is an area where Hous­ing New Zealand have ‘‘badly let down’’ the community in the past, so fre­quent up­dates on the up­grades would be ap­pre­ci­ated, he said.

The community was never in­formed that rede­vel­op­ment plans for the de­mol­ished block had stalled, he said.

Wor­ries ex­pressed by ten­ants at the meet­ing in­cluded the poor con­di­tion of tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion and the like­li­hood of de­lays in re­pair work. Many ten­ants have been neigh­bours for years and are dev­as­tated to have their streets bro­ken up.

‘‘This is rip­ping our neigh­bour­hood apart,’’ said Haz­ard Gr res­i­dent Kiri Higgs, who was given notice a month ago and will move to Astro­labe St.

Her neigh­bour, Josie Huntley, has lived on Haz­ard for 13 years and of­ten babysits Ms Higgs’ son.

Ms Huntley’s mother, Jean Creel­man, is an­other neigh­bour and both women worry about boarded-up, empty houses be­com­ing a tar­get for van­dal­ism.

Lo­cal Labour party chair­woman Ca­role Hicks, rep­re­sent­ing MP Kris Faafoi, said chil­dren would suf­fer from the re­lo­ca­tions.

‘‘We’ve got kids who are wellset­tled in their schools.

‘‘They’re a good community unto them­selves, fre­quently the heart of the community, and you’re just rip­ping it apart.’’

Royal treat­ment: The Whitby Waves net­ball team’s mas­cot King was a per­ma­nent fix­ture on the Mun­gavin Courts side­lines this win­ter and was given a ‘‘Best sup­port­ing dog’’ Os­car by the team for his loy­alty. From left, Mad­die Coad, 13, Katie Mac­Donell, 14, Bronte John­ston, 13, Gabey John­ston, 14, and Han­nah Bilder­beck, 13. Not pic­tured: Si­enna Packer, Ka­jal Modi, Mikaela King,

Olivia Hooper.

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