Newtown Park Apartments Reopening

23.11.13

Kia ora Tātou
Ā Ranginui e tu iho nei
Ā Papatuānuku e takotō nei
Tēnā kōrua

E te iwi Mana Whenua - Tēnā koe Pekaira

Ka nui te tangi o te ngākau mō te Rangatira rongo nui nei - a koro Sam Jackson
Moe mai i roto i te rangimarie, e te Rangatira

E ngā mātāwaka
E ngā tai e whā
E ngā manuhiri tuārangi
Rau Rangatira ma!

Nau mai! haere mai!
Ki te (whakatutuki - whaka- tu - tu ki -) i te kaupapa o tēnēi rā

Firstly, may I begin by acknowledging Pekaira Rei & Monty Ahie, mana whenua representatives.

May I acknowledge the passing of Sam Jackson, and welcome Hon Annette King, MP for Rongotai.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, and Councillor Paul Eagle, Chair of our Community Sport & Recreation committee that includes Council's housing.

Our tenants and housing heroes - and housing hero Stephanie Cook is here. I'd like to also acknowledge the work of Leonie Gill, who passed away two weeks ago, over the years keeping rents manageable and housing firmly in public hands.

Greg Orchard and our wonderful housing staff.

Good morning and warm pacific greetings!

Our most basic needs are food, water and shelter. Without a warm dry safe home, it's hard to learn, work or thrive.

Affordable warm dry housing for all is a real priority for me.

I grew up in a council flat in London and it was pretty basic. Shared toilets on the landings between floors and free standing paraffin heaters and one coalfed boiler to heat the water for five floors.

I remember when anyone could walk in off the street into the dark corridors in Newtown Park and knock on all the front doors. That was great for campaigning but no good at all for privacy and safety.

Isn't that great that Council housing has moved on and improved so much?

Council’s partnership with the Crown is truly transforming our social housing environment in Wellington. Five years into a 20 year programme, our largest housing complex could now be seen as one of the best places in Wellington to live.

The Housing Upgrade Programme is building homes and transforming lives. The programme is also making a difference to our local economy: our local architects South Pacific architects, designers, engineers, contractors and consultants play a huge role in the transformation, jobs are created in the local construction industry and local businesses have been supported.

Thanks to the City Housing team, past and present, for award-winning commitment to excellent social housing and the mammoth tasks of managing these projects, managing tenancies and looking after tenants amidst change and disruption, supporting over 800 tenant relocations so far.

Any home upgrade has its challenges, and this project represents a complete renovation of over 200 homes in one go! One high rise block removed to create better outdoor spaces - remember the damp old "zoo block" - no regrets at its removal.

New community spaces created indoors and out. Indoors: Community room and kitchen, health room led by Newtown’s Union Health Service, a computer hub, a teaching space and an office for Tenancy Advisors to see people on site. Outdoors - new playground and central courtyard, larger community garden.

The Tenant community was at the forefront throughout the upgrade process: starting back in 2008 when tenants at that time were invited to have their input into the design process.

Seismic strengthening of buildings is essential and our city is doing really well.

As always with renovation there were some unexpected discoveries - at Newtown Park Apartments this included uncovering of tram tracks beneath the land.

What we see are warm, dry, secure, modern apartments with individual fire and security control, modern kitchens and bathrooms, insulation and ventilation, double glazing, spaces for neighbours to meet each other, as well as to learn and look after their wellbeing (health room, learning and computer rooms, gardens), safe places for children to play, and an attractive piece of architecture and design.

Newtown Park Apartments recently won an award in the New Zealand Institute of Architecture awards for Wellington for residential housing. Comments from the judges were that it was a thoughtful and brave refurbishment and it also won the Sustainable Architecture award.

This upgrade also received two Resene Total Colour Awards received for the cheerful colour schemes This may also be a breeding ground for future winners of Community Awards given the initiative of this community including three ’Housing Heroes’ from here.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

The speech delivered may vary from this text.