One of the country's most controversial state housing areas is getting a revamp.
Pomare in Lower Hutt has a chequered history of violence, gang intimidation and police raids. Two years ago, the Government demolished more than 89 of its state houses, and now it is rebuilding.
"Pomare has a pretty tough history of gangs, of murders, of social dislocation, and this development is about transforming this community," says Housing Minister Nick Smith.
Dr Smith turned the first sod on the new development, which will include 150 new homes. Forty will be state or social houses, and 110 will go up for private sale.
But 89 state houses used to stand on the ground, and many are still angry the Government demolished them two years ago following the gang trouble.
"We have our own reputation, that's our reputation, it's not our family's reputation, it's not the kids' fault," says a Mongrel Mob member known as "Fats". "We got a lot of [Pacific Island] families here; it's not their fault what we did - what we do."
But Dr Smith doesn't think too many tears will be shed in the suburb.
"With these changes in housing the gangs will be part of the history and not part of the future of Pomare," he says.
Many residents have wanted to return to their former street. But with only a few state houses going up for sale, and the rest being sold for about $320,000, many believe they'll be boxed out.
"It's a false hope for people in a way, that they still can't afford it," says Pomare resident Shazz Wilson.
"I'd love to come back here to live but I just can't afford it," says fellow resident Crystal-Red Tamaka. "Even looking at the maps at the houses - it's like they won't want us back here anyway."
Housing New Zealand says it will do its best to accommodate people wanting to return to Pomare.
It expects the first 30 new homes to be complete by the end of next year.
source: newshub archive