The rate of repairs to earthquake-damaged Housing New Zealand
homes in Christchurch has been slammed for being "painfully
Just 8 per cent of the Crown agency's broken city housing
stock has been repaired, with more than 4500 still requiring
In its annual report released today, Housing New Zealand
boasted of "several significant milestones" in helping the
quake-ravaged city get back on its feet.
Chief executive Glen Sowry said 254 repairs of tenanted
quake-damaged properties had been completed, with an
additional 150 repairs underway.
"We are well on target to complete the repair of all 5000 by
the end of 2015," he said.
But given that left 4600 homes still in need of attention,
critics said the rate of progress was far too slow.
The housing situation in Christchurch was "absolutely bloody
dire", said Tenants Protection Association Christchurch
manager Helen Gatonyi.
Slow progress on Housing New Zealand's stock was heaping an
extra pressure on the local rental market, where rents spiked
by 12 per cent over the last year, according to the Ministry
of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) rental
"In anybody's book, things might've gone quicker than they
have," Ms Gatonyi said.
"There's a sense from tenants we've spoken to that they
(Housing New Zealand) could've done more, but there's no
avoiding the fact it's just an enormous task."
Insurance wrangling, land issues, and a lack of contractors
have all held back progress, she said.
Immediately after the major earthquakes, the corporation did
27,000 health and safety repairs.
Around 600 families were moved to safer accommodation and
more than 500 properties were irreparably damaged, of which
215 were in the red zones in Christchurch and Kaiapoi.
And since February of this year, when it received a $320
million insurance pay-out - the equal highest payout in New
Zealand history - they've been ploughing ahead with repairs.
But Christchurch East by-election hopeful Poto Williams said:
"Clearly it's not happening quickly enough."
She also raised concerns that the homes are being rebuilt to
pre-quake levels, which will be "woefully inadequate".
And she added that the Government needs to first accept there
is a "housing crisis" in the post-disaster region, and then
"invest, support, or underwrite" the developments for a
period of time.
"It's all painfully slow and the Government needs to take the
lead," Ms Williams said.
Mary Richardson of Christchurch Methodist Mission called for
any red-tape hindering the emergence of more social housing
to be slashed.
"The situations we hear people living in would make your
heart bleed," she said.
"Whenever we have spaces available we could fill it 20 or 30
fold. And we don't advertise widely."
Housing New Zealand, which says it's on track to build 700
new houses built by the end of 2015, defended its repairs
"The repair and rebuild programme in Canterbury is a huge
undertaking and we are confident we will achieve our
targets," said Paul Commons, redevelopment manager.
- By Kurt Bayer of APNZ