Family finds their place

The Vaugh family Kenny Vaugh, his wife Carrie, their son Rory (4) and twin daughters Ivy and...
The Vaugh family Kenny Vaugh, his wife Carrie, their son Rory (4) and twin daughters Ivy and Maisie (2). PHOTO: SUPPLIED
In the calm, sunny neighbourhood of Hikuwai, Wānaka, nestled among newly built homes on Quartz Lane, Kenny Vaugh and his family have found their haven — a four-bedroom house that offers shelter and the chance to plant roots in a community that feels like it’s truly theirs. 

This opportunity came through the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust (QLCHT), and their assisted ownership programme.

Mr Vaugh, originally from Ireland, and his Scottish wife Carrie moved to Wānaka after falling in love with the region.

"We came here for the lifestyle and then realised that we never want to leave," Mr Vaugh said, echoing a sentiment common among many who move to Central Otago. 

The QLCHT played a significant role in transforming their lives when the young parents of one son discovered they were having twins.

The process of securing their home began in earnest in 2021. 

"As soon as we walked through the doors of our empty home, we knew it was us. We loved it. It was everything we dreamed of — a brand new home, lovely and warm, a lovely little neighbourhood, a street to call our own," Mr Vaugh said.

This sense of community was something the Vaughs craved but found lacking in their previous living arrangements. 

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, the absence of a vibrant community atmosphere became starkly apparent. 

They felt isolated living in a street often empty due to many houses being used as holiday rentals.

"We were living near town and would walk our usual route to the Bullock Creek, spending a little time there just with the two girls and Rory. Our daily little adventure, but there was no-one there."

The trust’s assisted ownership model enabled the Vaughs to buy their home with a mortgage significantly below the region’s average and at a price lower than market value.

"For us, I think our purchase price was around $430,000,"  Mr Vaugh said.

This financial accessibility is a cornerstone of the trust’s mission to provide housing security without the daunting financial burden many face in today’s market. 

Today, Mr Vaugh and his family are active, stable members of a thriving community. 

Their children have friends in the neighbourhood and the family can plan for the future without anxiety.

QLCHT is about to start building four more two-bedroom homes at Hikuwai and new neighbours will be joining the Vaughs later this year. 

None of this would be possible without the collaboration of developers.

Hikuwai developer Lee Brown says: "We pride ourselves on creating an inclusive community, and it’s rewarding to know we are playing a role in helping a small number of families into their own homes, who would not otherwise be able to access home ownership."

Poppie Johnson is a contributing writer for the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust. The not-for-profit, community-owned trust was established by the Queenstown Lakes District Council in 2007. More information: