The Ngāi Te Rangi iwi is hoping to import these transportable homes from America.
A Tauranga iwi hopes to import and sell three-bedroom transportable homes from the US and eventually build them in Rotorua to help Māori who are living in “appalling” conditions get a foot on the property
Those houses were targeted at people or iwi who had Māori or private land to build on.
Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley said some of its “people were living in appalling conditions in a swamp in old shacks” or in overcrowded conditions or emergency housing. A lot of iwi tribal members had also lost their homes in Cyclone Gabrielle, and “some have [had] houses been wiped out and written off and they are still living in them”.
The idea for the portable three-bedroom homes, which would cost between $150,000 and $170,000, has been in the pipeline since before Covid but was put on ice during the pandemic.
Ngāi Te Rangi was also exploring the idea of building a $30 million factory in Rotorua similar to the one making the houses in the US, but that would be subject to investors and interest.
Stanley visited the US earlier this year and was due to go back to California next month to visit the factory there to finalise a deal that could involve shipping 15 portable houses to New Zealand.
He also needed to ensure those homes met New Zealand safety standards. Stanley would use his time to negotiate terms and conditions with the factory to replicate its operation in Rotorua.
“I’m trying to grind a deal, and it’s a hard deal to grind. You have to get them compliant with New Zealand standards, including plumbing and electrical. That is why I will be there for two months.”
Once operational, the Rotorua factory could manufacture about 45 homes a month. The construction followed a modular design and everything was clipped together.
“Lots of factories in America are doing it that way, and you don’t have to be a carpenter. You have engineers overseeing everything.”
The houses and decking were built on 45-foot trailers and two were joined together on-site to make the house. The trailers were jacked up one metre off the ground so the foundations could be built underneath.
Every home would be fitted with electrics, plumbing and appliances. Stanley said a mortgage on a $150,000 to $170,000 home would be cheaper than rent. According to the Sorted mortgage calculator, a $170,000 home loan at a variable rate of 8.32 per cent over 30 years would be $297 a week.
Stanley said the organisation chose Rotorua as a possible site for the factory because the “land is closer and cheaper”.
“We save our land for housing.”
Rotorua Business Chamber chief executive Bryce Heard said it supported all Rotorua businesses and welcomed new businesses to the community. Rotorua was an attractive place to live, work, play and invest.
“It is also the centre of the wood industry, so suited to this type of manufacturing to serve a wider audience. Currently, with very high inflation and interest rates, there is a significant slow-down in housing demand, but hopefully, the economy will improve in 2024.”
Rotorua Lakes Council district development deputy chief executive Jean-Paul Gaston said research over a number of years had confirmed Rotorua had acute housing needs, and this related to all types of housing, including smaller housing options, affordable housing and social housing.
“Rotorua is in need of more homes of all types, and initiatives like this would contribute to reducing the critical housing shortage in our city. We have a deficit of about 1800 homes which has directly contributed to a significant increase in rent and house prices during the past few years.”
It assessed over the next decade, it would need more than 6000 homes to accommodate growth and the changing needs of the population.
Kāinga Ora Bay of Plenty regional director Darren Toy said it would be interested to learn more about the Ngāi Te Rangi plans at an appropriate time in the future.
“Kāinga Ora manages a Kāinga Whenua loans system that could possibly be used to support the relocatable criteria aspect of the proposed Ngāi Te Rangi initiative, but at this early stage, more detail would be required.”
He said the Kāinga Whenua Loan Scheme was an initiative between Kāinga Ora and Kiwibank to help Māori achieve home ownership on their multiple-owned land.
“The loans are available for both Māori land trusts and individuals with a right to occupy their multiple-owned Māori land. A Kāinga Whenua loan is secured only against the house, not against the house and land as with most home loans.”
Kiwibank approves and provides the loan, and people need to meet the bank’s standard lending criteria, as well as the Kāinga Whenua criteria. Kāinga Ora provides lenders’ mortgage insurance for the loan, he said.
A Kāinga Whenua loan also puts limits on the type of house that may be built, bought or moved to the land. It must be a one-storey house of at least 50 square metres, on piles, and with reasonable road access. It must be on the mainland North or South Islands.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development said in a statement it funded projects that strengthen Māori organisations’ ability to deliver kaupapa Māori housing on their whenua. It did that through three funding initiatives – He Taupua, He Taupae and He Kūkū ki te Kāinga.
A Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment spokesperson said it would need more information about the project with regard to whether it would qualify for any funding.
Carmen Hall is a news director for the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post, covering business and general news. She has been a Voyager Media Awards winner and a journalist for 25 years.