A mother of four is scared she will be homeless if the proposed four-lane highway into Whangārei requires her state house to be demolished.
Adele Hoeta, 30, lives with her four tamariki -Angelo, 6, Kylah-Rose, 4, Aiden, 3, and Kaleb, 9 months, – on Reeves Pl in Raumanga.
A letter from Waka Kotahi (New Zealand Transport Agency) in September confirmed Hoeta’s property could be in jeopardy of being bulldozed under the current proposed route between Whangārei and Port Marsden Highway.
Read more: Uncertainty abounds after Waka Kotahi releases plan for four-lane highway
The national transport agency has identified an “emerging preferred corridor” where the almost $700 million highway could be built. Construction was projected to start in 2023 and conclude in 2028.
Eleven aerial maps have been published which outlined the suggested route from Port Marsden Highway near Ruakākā to Raumanga. It showed where the new highway would deviate from the current road as well as indicating what other land was being investigated as part of the project.
Hoeta’s September letter stated that even though her property was within the study area for the highway, it did not necessarily mean it would be directly affected.
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The Waka Kotahi letter was followed by one from Kāinga Ora (Housing NZ) in October, which stated it would work closely with tenants to “ensure their housing needs are met”.
However, Hoeta said she had been given no guarantees she would be relocated in time if her house was bulldozed.
“By 2023, if they don’t find us a house, we’ll pretty much be homeless.”
Hoeta explained that a number of factors precluded her from securing a rental property, which included her son’s autism and history as a runner, only living on one income, her partner’s bankruptcy two years ago, and her benefit fraud conviction in 2017.
She said she was aware of two other properties threatened by the current route on Reeves Pl and expressed her distaste for the project.
“I’m not too happy about it, pretty pissed off.”
Kāinga Ora Whangārei area manager Linda Barrie said she completely understood the uncertainty the project brought people in potentially impacted state houses, but repeated Kāinga Ora’s commitment to rehousing them if necessary.
“In the two letters that have so far been sent to our customers who may be affected, we’re reassuring them that their housing needs will be met,” she said.
“At this stage … we don’t know the timeframes for this development but we have a good relationship with Waka Kotahi and they are keeping us well informed of their progress, as they are with other affected parties.”
She referenced Kāinga Ora’s plan to build an extra 350 state homes in Northland, 220 of which in Whangārei, over the next few years.
According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, there were 2178 state houses in Northland currently. A total of 852 Northlanders were on the housing register (state house waiting list), 502 in Whangārei, 290 in the Far North and 60 in Kaipara.
Hoeta was not alone in the concern she expressed regarding the four-lane highway project.
Otaika resident Heather Nicholson, who had lived on Toetoe Rd for five years, received a Waka Kotahi letter in November that stated if the current route was confirmed, it would likely have a direct impact on their neighbour’s land, not their own.
Nevertheless, Nicholson was still concerned about how any development of her neighbour’s property would impact her own.
Nicholson, who agreed there was a need for a new road to Auckland, said the uncertainty caused by the project was not helpful, especially after 2020.
Oakleigh resident Paul Slako has lived right beside the intersection of SH1 and Mangapai Rd for 46 years and firmly believed a new road was necessary.
“You only have to stand here and watch the traffic go past, it’s just bedlam, it definitely needs upgrading to a proper highway,” he said.
However, Slako echoed Hoeta and Nicholson in the uncertainty the project had caused. He urged Waka Kotahi to seriously consider the environment impact of highway construction in his area before the route was finalised.
Waka Kotahi would not confirm the number of landowners who had been contacted regarding the proposed route, citing the project was in very early stages.
Waka Kotahi acting project delivery senior manager Rod James said some areas of the preferred corridor, such as areas south of Portland Rd and north of Oakleigh, were particularly wide as they required additional investigations to inform the design of the highway.
Site investigations included geotechnical testing – bore holes and test pits to test soil – on privately-owned land, ecological surveys through the coastal marine area and site walkovers of areas of historical and/or cultural value.
James said community consultation events had been planned for late February, but were yet to be confirmed. However, he did confirm Waka Kotahi would be at the Northland Field Days in Dargaville (March 4-6), where people could discuss the project.
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