Deep connection with Porirua
until I was approached to submit a proposal. We lined up against several other developers from around the North Island. I think Carrus’ track record won us the right to purchase the land from Porirua City Council. I’d like to think we have transformed residential housing in Porirua and have been an important contributor to the city’s income, and job creation.
Was it difficult to get the project underway? Any misgivings about developing there?
Getting consents, or permits it was back then, was a lot less arduous, but funding was similar to now. Most other aspects of developing have got more difficult. Aotea needed significant marketing, but the result speaks for itself – I’m proud of the outcome and there’s more to come.
Did the Global Financial Crisis affect Aotea or Silverwood?
Like everywhere, sales slowed and we had to cut our cloth as required. To be a land developer in New Zealand means you have to be able to weather the storm of financial cycles. Porirua has been pretty good in terms of selling developed land, comparing favourably with other North Island regions.
Has dealing with Porirua City Council been a smooth ride?
Like all local councils, Porirua has its moments. It’s fair to say the mayors, chief executives and senior management have been good to deal with, as have senior councillors, such as Ken Douglas.
Were you sad to see the demise of Todd Motors in the late 1990s?
I had shifted to Tauranga by then, but I still had a consulting engineering practice in Lower Hutt. I had my hand in many residential subdivisions in the Wellington region. Having spent more than two years on site, building all the roads and car parks and gardens, it was upsetting to realise the situation, especially for the families in eastern Porirua who relied on Todd Motors to survive. It must have been a soul-destroying time for the Todd family and management, plus all the loyal workers.
What do you think of the direction Porirua is headed?
Porirua has had to suffer being bisected by State Highway 1, which has created many connectivity issues. [ Mayor] Nick Leggett and the senior council management are trying very hard to revitalise the city and improve economic development, and are to be congratulated.
Is Porirua a place you could call home?
I come from Lower Hutt and have lived in Tauranga since 1982. I support the Hurricanes and never allow anyone to say derogatory things about Wellington. I love visiting, and I’m here every few weeks, because I’m the chairman of IHC’s property company, on the board of The Correspondence School and have building and development projects here. I would never live permanently in Wellington again because the climate in Tauranga is warmer.
How important has it been for Carrus to be involved in community organisations such as Titahi Golf Club and Northern United?
It’s all part of supporting a community in which you work. It’s been great to have that association with Norths, as they’ve won the Jubilee Cup in recent years and produced All Blacks.
It must be exciting to be working with Ngati Toa over the potential development of the old Porirua Hospital site.
It’s a work in progress and it will take at least a year to get the planning process through the council. Potentially, it is not only another 500 houses, but an important opportunity for medium- high density development and a five-minute walk to Porirua Railway Station.
What do you think of the Porirua 50th birthday activities?
It’s a fantastic chance to celebrate where the city has come from. We’re the major sponsor of the Pataka exhibition, We Built This City.
So, Porirua occupies a big place in your heart, then?
Porirua City has been a big part of my working life for 45 years and has been kind to me. In return, I think I have helped create the quality of life now being afforded to many in the new developments.