Friday, August 26, 2022

Point of Order: How the state went shopping in Austria to have 500 houses assembled in Titahi Bay in the 1950s

Readers who go wandering around the Titahi Bay area of Porirua may well stumble upon the consequences of the state acting both as land developer and builder of state-owned homes when the private sector failed to meet the demand for housing in the early 1950s.

In 1952 the then Minister of Housing, W.S.Goosman, approved 1000 prefabricated houses to be bought overseas.

Five hundred of the pre-fabricated dwellings came from Austria to meet state housing demand.

These were assembled in Tītahi Bay by 194 Austrian tradesmen brought in for the task. After completing their work some of them stayed on and became New Zealanders.

The Titahi Bay Community Group website says the Titahi Bay houses were pre-cut and manufactured with Austrian timber in Austria but were designed in New Zealand.

The Austrian houses still form a distinct neighbourhood of Porirua City and the descendants of several young Austrian men who came here to work on the project live in the Bay area to this day.

Point of Order was prompted to wonder what could be learned (if anything) from the Titahi Bay initiative on reading the latest statement from Housing Minister Megan Woods

She said the Government is driving innovation and ramping up progress in Rotorua with the first six of 37 homes delivered with the fast, modern, off-site building method known as OSM (offsite manufacturing).

OSM is the construction of buildings and components of buildings offsite in a factory, which are then transported to the sites where they are needed.

“The New Zealand housing and construction market faces some serious challenges, and we believe it’s time for a new approach, and some forward thinking, to create more modern, precision-built homes at pace and scale.” Megan Woods said.

“OSM homes have numerous efficiency benefits; they can be built and installed on sites faster than traditional builds, there are fewer variables, like constraints on materials, and there is less construction waste, making for happy and healthy, sustainable homes.”

This news of progress on housing the people of Rotorua was accompanied by announcements affecting the wellbeing (for better or worse) of:-

Freedom campers-

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash announced the introduction of the Self-contained Motor Vehicle Legislation Bill will create “a robust regulatory system” that central and local government can rely on to manage freedom camping, ensuring its sustainability and respect for communities.

The Bill proposes that vehicle-based freedom campers will need to be in a certified self-contained vehicle to stay overnight on land managed by local councils unless the council has designated the area as suitable for non-certified vehicles. It also requires that self-contained vehicles have a fixed toilet and introduces a stronger infringement system.

The sick –

Health Minister Andrew Little has announced the Government is expanding the e-Prescription Service to make it easier for people to get the medicines they need.

No longer will prescriptions for controlled drugs have to be in hard copy, with a physical signature.

For medicines for some chronic conditions like ADHD, prescribers will be able to increase the period of time covered by a single ePrescription, reducing the number of times patients need to visit a GP for repeat prescriptions.

“Sending prescriptions electronically makes sense because it can be faster, safer, cheaper and more convenient, but until recently, it was hardly ever done,” Andrew Little told the Digital Health Association at an event in Parliament today.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the number of GP practices using the official Government e-Prescription Service jumping from 415 in March 2020 to 1038 in March this year. The number of eScripts issued went from 624,300 to 1,559,427.

But until now, the service can’t be used for the prescription of any controlled drugs such as morphine.

In other press statements minister boasted about their accomplishments with –

Research and development –

The Government is helping business to succeed with the Research and Development Tax Incentive supporting an excess of $1 billion in research and development activity in New Zealand.

Passing the $1 billion milestone represents $150 million in tax credits allocated over the first two years of the scheme.

The Research and Development Tax Incentive provides a 15 per cent tax credit for businesses performing eligible research and development activities in New Zealand.

There are now 1,625 businesses enrolled in the scheme and te government expects the amount of research and development to increase further as businesses submit their applications, assessments are completed and additional businesses sign up and apply for the scheme.

Jobs for Pacific People –

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ Tupu Aotearoa programme has helped more than 1000 Pacific people into employment in the last six months and almost 1400 Pacific people transition into training to gain qualifications over the last 12 months.

But let’s get back to Megan Woods, who said building more warm, dry, good quality homes is a key part of our Government’s solution to New Zealand’s housing crisis, and it is focused on improving the speed and efficiency of housebuilding to enable the many new homes the country needs.

Nevertheless, as families move into the first six homes in the Rotorua part of the programme, Woods reminds us how much more needs to be done:

Since 2013 Rotorua has experienced a population surge of 9,000 people, while only issuing 1,500 consents. This Government is now working hard to help Rotorua fix this problem by pouring resource into the city.

Across Rotorua around 300 public homes are under construction or being planned and out of the Government’s 10,000 additional public homes, 209 are in Rotorua.

“Rotorua is a priority for us and on top of our comprehensive house build plan we’ve funded additional infrastructure to enable over 3,000 additional homes,” Megan Woods said.

Woods grabbed the chance to remind readers of her press statement about work on the Government’s programme to address the housing crisis

* Major investment in rebuilding the public housing sector (10,000 additional homes and counting)

* Interest limitation rule exemption for build-to-rent sector to enable the delivery of more quality, long-term rental supply.

* Investment in Māori housing to deliver up to 1000 new homes, repairs and maintenance to 700 homes, and infrastructure support to enable for 2,700 home sites ($730 million Budget 2021)

* $3.8 billion for critical housing infrastructure like pipes and roads to enable new housing

* Cutting red tape for urban development to encourage more new housing in areas where people want to live

* Support for first home buyers; affordable homes, grants and loans and Progressive Home Ownership

* Affordable Housing Fund to support new developments

* Building Consent System review to unlock productivity and more affordable homes

* Commerce Commission market study to pave way for fairer deal on key residential building supplies
Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton



1 comment:

Robert Arthur said...

Of the 700 homes funded for repair, assuming not all State owned, am curious about repayment arrangements.