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Nearly 90 flood-damaged homes to be demolished in Auckland, half of them in Māngere

Almost all the houses on a south Auckland street have been demolished after last year’s floods, and residents say they feel like they are losing a part of their community.

Pito Place lies within the Te Ararata Creek floodplain in Mangere and almost the entire street has been condemned, forcing out some families who have lived there for generations.

Kāinga Ora confirmed that 19 state houses on the street have been demolished so far (another two houses have been demolished in nearby streets, and another 23 in the suburb earmarked for bulldozers) of the 89 state houses to be demolished, half are in Mangere.

Kelly Dey lived on Ventura Street with her four children until the night of the storm, when the state house flooded and collapsed from its foundation.

“When I lived on Ventura Street, we were all a community there: me and all my neighbors, even the ones on Pito Place, knew each other. We were there to help each other.

“I miss him, I miss Ventura.”

He still lives in Mangere but misses his neighbors, many of whom also had to move.

Another resident, Viliami Halaufia, faces a difficult decision: after 30 years of living in Māngere, the house he owns was waist-deep in floods and he has a purchase offer from Auckland Council.

He lived near Pito Place and said seeing vacant lots where houses once stood had changed the neighborhood.

“I expected it because of the flooding but… there is almost no one, the street is closed and most of the (residents of the) area have left.”

I AM Māngere is a community trust set up four years ago to equip and support local groups with their mahi, from environmental to safety initiatives.

Kelly Dey lived on Ventura Street with her four children until the night of the storm.

Kelly Dey lived on Ventura Street with her four children until the night of the storm.
Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

CEO Toni Helleur said they were losing a neighborhood.

“Every day we passed by we saw that a family was still there and the next minute they were gone. Now it’s a real ghost town. And now that some of those houses are gone, it’s definitely a real reminder of what happened on last year in Māngere during the floods.

Losing so many houses on one street changed a community, Helleur said.

“It feels like we’ve lost communities, you know, an entire neighborhood and that’s really sad for us,” he said.

“There have been grandparents who lived in the house, their children live in the house and now their grandchildren live in the house, so they have been there for years. The families around Māngere tend to live quite close, so As a five minutes from there, aunts there and uncles there.

“And to lose that in a community or in a neighborhood is very noticeable and quite heartbreaking.”

Kāinga Ora rehoused 246 families who were forced from their state homes after the January floods in Auckland last year.

Some had chosen not to return to Mangere.

“However, we have had families who chose not to return to Māngere because of the trauma they suffered. So they have definitely been given the option to return to Māngere, return obviously to another home,” Helleur said.

State housing is not part of the government’s storm-damaged housing purchase process, through which Auckland Council’s recovery office expects 900 homes in the region to be demolished or relocated over the next two years.

So far, 520 private homes have been deemed uninhabitable and 103 of them have been purchased, but only four homes have been demolished and removed in Muriwai, a West Coast community hit hard by landslides during Cyclone Gabrielle.

Auckland Council’s head of housing recovery Fiona Wright said they would begin removing storm-affected homes in Rānui, Henderson, Massey and Swanson next month.

“Empty sites will be maintained, including mowing, weeding and pest control, as well as tidying up utilities,” Wright said.

“Where necessary, we will look at options for any issues that arise around empty homes.”

Kāinga Ora Auckland and Northland deputy chief executive Caroline Butterworth said the future use of the land was still being determined.

“What happens in the long term with the vacant land we own is complex and depends on a number of factors,” he said.

“As a property owner and owner of a major residential property, it is important that we have a clear idea of ​​the risks to our properties and the possible mitigations that could be used to reduce the risks before making decisions about how we are going to use the land in the future. future.”

Some of the properties could be affected by Auckland Council’s proposed blue-green grid, which was intended to help mitigate the risk of future flooding, while others could be affected by specific stormwater management projects, Butterworth said .

“We won’t know exactly how our properties will be affected until Auckland Council has moved further with its plans,” he said.

“While we wait for further information from the council, we are carrying out our own assessments of properties we own in flood-prone areas, using a similar methodology to the council.”

Butterworth said the timing for demolishing the remaining 34 state homes was still being determined.

“Those factors include the technical work we are carrying out on selected properties and Auckland Council’s infrastructure and planning investments for flood mitigation, which will influence how the underlying land will be used in the future.”

The floodplains

Māngere resident Julia Tuineau is part of a group working to restore the Te Ararata stream, which meanders through the suburb and has wide floodplains on either side, where homes were flooded.

A retired teacher and environmental science graduate, she said about 200 homes near the creek were flooded the night of the storm on Auckland’s anniversary weekend.

“There were 198 around here that flooded and they weren’t minor floods because there was quite a bit of sewage and it got into the carpets, walls, appliances and cars,” he said.

“Part of the problem was that there was a lot of weeds and a lot of broken fences that the water picked up and jammed under Walmsley Road, where there was only one exit to this whole area, so the water receded from there.”

Plans to naturalize the creek, widen the culvert and widen the floodplain were still on the table, years after being discussed, Tuineau said.

“We were hoping that a naturalized channel would form and the other idea was to lower this flood zone again, widen it, so that the houses that were next to it, probably many of them, would have had to disappear. That would have created a high-capacity flood zone”.

He said the work was long behind schedule.

“It’s important because people are on edge when it rains,” Tuineau said.

“We’ve had some pretty heavy falls over the last year since the flood, and the water has risen, but not to the houses at this time. All it takes is another rain event like January of last year and we’ll have another problem.”

She sees the stream as an asset to the community if the green land around it could be expanded: native species, including a long-finned eel, have been found in the channel.

“There are values ​​of the creek itself there. It has ecological values, of course, and we’ve almost lost two native fish populations, just from the persistent pollution of the storm water that goes down the road drains,” Tuineau said.

“We have to look after him so that he is healthy, because he is, and he could be a much bigger asset in the heart of Mangere for everyone who lives around him.”

Students from local schools visit the creek for science lessons.

“It also has educational value, because we’ve taken school classes and done science along the creek, and it illustrates a lot of the scientific concepts like metamorphosis, food chains, the carbon, oxygen and nitrogen cycle,” Tuineau said.

“It’s all illustrated in pocket size on a creek and very close to several schools.”

She believed Māngere also needed more green space.

“There’s recreational value. We’re going to need it more and more, because housing around here has really intensified with townhouses and apartments and very little green space.”

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