News | 17 September 2018

New Wellington social housing site completed

Te Māra apartments – 104 new social housing units built by Wellington City Council – were blessed in a dawn ceremony today (Monday 17 September).

Blessing at Te Māra
Dawn blessing at Te Māra

The units – ranging between one and four bedrooms – occupy part of the former Arlington Apartments site in Mount Cook, the Council’s largest social housing site.

Mayor Justin Lester joined representatives of local iwi, Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika, in a blessing of the site. The iwi gifted the name Te Māra to the site, meaning the food gardens.

The area – originally called Pukeahu, was historically used for gardens and native vegetation to support the community of Te Aro Pā in lower Taranaki Street, located on the old shoreline.

Mayor Justin Lester says: “The completion of Te Māra is a huge achievement. We have nearly doubled the provision of social housing at the site, with 104 good quality units on a site where 57 poor quality apartments used to stand.

“We know from our city-wide consultation with the community earlier this year that there is strong support for the Council to tackle Wellington’s housing shortage, particularly to provide good quality social and affordable housing.

“The development at Te Māra increases the opportunity to make sure the city’s most vulnerable people are well-housed.”

Councillor Brian Dawson, who holds the housing portfolio, says Te Māra is built around a community space.

“The units are also built to modern standards. They are properly heated and insulated and Te Māra will be a much better place to live than the previous complex.”

“It’s great to see these new units raising the bar for social housing in Wellington. We have to increase supply at all levels of the housing continuum, but that should never be at the expense of good quality and community planning.”

The Council commissioned prominent whakairo artist Ihaia Puketapu to carve poupou from three Totara trees that were removed from the site before construction of the new apartments started.

Mr Puketapu chose Rongomatane and Haumia-tiketike – the deities of cultivated and native vegetation – as the figures to be represented in the poupou because of the site’s historic use. The poupou were installed in the court yard area at Te Māra before Monday’s blessing ceremony.