Glen Innes needs our support – why? and how?

Aucklanders could be forgiven for being confused as to why so many Glen Innes residents are stridently opposed to the redevelopment of their suburb.
Who could object to a project which promises major upgrading of state houses, refurbished community facilities, improved education, more job opportunities, better shopping and recreational areas?
It sounded great when the plans were first announced in 2008 with barely a few ripples of concern through the community.
However with a change of government and more details of the project being released alongside harsh policies to reduce and sell state houses the concerns have mushroomed.
So close to Anzac Day it’s worth remembering the area around Glen Innes was settled in the aftermath of the Second World War and street names reflect some of the battles where New Zealanders fought the rise of fascism. Dunkirk, Tripoli, Tobruk, Benghazi and Alamein Roads are there along with Upham and Ngarimu Roads remembering Victoria Cross winners Charles Upham and the Maori Battallion’s Moana Ngārimu.
A large war memorial reserve beside the Tamaki estuary provides a reminder of the history and a place to celebrate community life after six years of war.
Returning soldiers and their families moved into this community in large numbers after the war with the government providing much-needed housing. It’s an example of the best of urban development from the 1950s when state houses were spread through a community and every family could expect a decent standard of living. Generations of kids have grown up in these well-treed streets with robust houses and large sections.
Back in 2008 the then head of the Tamaki Transformation Project Pat Snedden told the community –
“There will be no requirement at all for any existing tenant in any state house to move out of the area as a result of anything that occurs here. There will be no reduction in state houses as a result of anything that occurs here”.
However in the first stage of redevelopment state housing is being halved (from 156 to 78 homes) and families on low-incomes are being forced to abandon homes they have lived in for decades. By any measure these families have paid off their houses several times over but they will either be forced out of the suburb altogether or into a new high density housing area which will be an urban slum in five years.
It’s small wonder the community feels betrayed and abused with previous assurances shown to be meaningless.
The government’s plan has a public relations name (TTP) but in practice it’s ethnic cleansing on a grand scale. Maori and Pacific families are being forced out of their homes on the slopes of northern Glen Innes for high-income housing to take their place. It seems the government thinks families on low-incomes don’t deserve homes with a harbour view.
The first state house was shifted out last week and up to 40 are scheduled to be moved in the next few weeks as the land is prepared for selling to property developers. They in turn are excited at the rich pickings they will take from buying this crown land and developing it for private profit. It’s hard to believe there is a desperate shortage of state houses.
The government claims the community has been consulted widely but this is a sham. The only local person from Glen Innes on the transformation board is National MP Alfred Ngaro who believes “state housing creates dependency”. Alfred is entitled to his views but he has never been elected as a community representative of Glen Innes.
The makeup of the transformation board looks as though it could happily represent Remuera but is hopelessly out of its depth in understanding the Glen Innes community. I have never seen a more patronising, unsympathetic and inarticulate response from an organisation as given by the transformation board chair to an angry community meeting in February.
But these National Party appointees blunder on uprooting this community family by family, street by street. They won’t be happy until this last piece of coastal Auckland which is still occupied by low-income families is handed over to property developers to create another McMansion suburb by the sea.
This is not what New Zealand soldiers fought for or, in the case of Ngarimu, died for. He was killed in 1943 and never had the opportunity to raise a family in a suburb such as Glen Innes.
Looking at Glen Innes today there’s a lot to feel embarrassed about as we remember our old soldiers’ legacy.
So what can we do to support this community under attack?
• Join the text alert to join protests against the movement of state houses. Text to 0211239252 to get the alerts.
• Come to the community forum on Wednesday 9th May at Grace International Church (off Line Road, GI) at 7pm where the community will speak out with a plan to deal with the crisis.

3 thoughts on “Glen Innes needs our support – why? and how?

  1. The state housing sector has been a a wonderful mechanism for setting some standards of renting and influencing the landlords power in the market, by containing the shortage/market hike approach to rent.
    The “dependancy” arguement is often used by those that have little empathy for the vunerable and marginalised and no understanding of a healthy society with interdependancy as the norm and housing as a right (ie not as a commodity financial gain).
    State housing and crown land are anotther collective asset being sold off.

  2. Alfred is entitled to his views but he has never been elected as a community representative of Glen Innes. Neither have you been represented to voice a bias opinion on behalf of the Glen Innes community.

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