Guest Post: Te Kauwhata Kiwibuild

A guest post by David White:

In response to kiwiblog request for kiwibuild photos, I took a trip up to visit Lakeside Te Kauwhata (TK). I was also personally interested in this development as it has got a lot of media / PR time in the North Waikato, so was interested to see what the fuss was about. 

Background on Te Kauwhata (TK) TK is equidistant between Auckland and Hamilton. An hour without traffic gets you into Auckland central and an hour south would get you to any part of Hamilton. It has managed to project itself as a desirable community, with a village feel. It was the location of NZ’s first wine research station, and capitalizes on this history to create a atmosphere of higher class than the riff raff of Mercer and Huntly the townships north and south of TK respectively. The view from the roadside traveling into TK is one of lifestyle blocks, grapes and climbing roses on the fence. Very picturesque. 

One of the issues that rankled Huntly residents was in the Waikato District Council long term plan, was that TK got hundreds of millions ($260 million if my memory serves me correctly) for infrastructure upgrades including upgrading the sewage treatment plant. TK has approximately 1500 homes in it. Where as Huntly which has many more homes, got a mizerly $0.6 million in capital upgrades. We will come back to this below. 

The company Winton sure knows how to market itself. They have massive signs, including one on South Bound out of Auckland (Dury I think). Closer to TK, they have a massive sign next  to the roundabout next to the TK expressway off ramp system. 

And once you hit TK, there is a community noticeboard area, which winton have also added to since I was last here. 

Traveling down the road to the development, it is clear that part of the condition of the development was to upgrade the road. Since roadworks started way before the development was visible. 

And at the development site more signage and earthworks. The lake is just visible in the distance. However they are also creating a lake on site that can be used for recreational activities. The reality is that Lake Waikare is a shallow peat like, and like most of the Waikato Peat Lakes it has issues with nutrient run off, Koi carp (in the Northern Waikato) and is toxic for months of the year. Thus they are using the road runoff and stormwater to create a healthy lake for the residents.

This being the entrance to the site: 

As luck would have it, there was actually an open home on! So given my brother qualifies for the kiwibuild program, decided to pay a visit to the show homes and see what he could be able t purchase. At this point there was a sign requesting no photography, so thought that it was ethical not to take more photos. But couldn’t resist one from the site office looking towards the lake showing further earthworks and where the houses would be located for the first role out. 

The show homes were four or five homes, on fully landscaped sections (included in the price), displaying a selection of the homes on offer and the site office had large maps showing the full extent and plan for the development. 

The development was for 1600 (or 1500?) homes. This will approximately double the size of TK. So hence the hundreds of millions for infrastructure upgrade. As clearly doubling the town population is going to have an impact on services! It was also interesting that Waikato District Council was able to access the interest free loans from the previous government to fund these upgrades. So this development has clearly been in the pipeline for some time. 

As one would expect from a development this size, there is commercial and retail space allocated, and it will no doubt take some years before all the development wraps up. It is only recently that sections have become available for purchase and this is the first release of sections. Below is a shot of some of the materials,  

With a close up of the map, as you can see there has been quite a few sections sold. The kiwibuild sections are the ones in light green. Have circled them to make them more obvious.They have all sort ou on the A2 release plan, but further properties are available so if you have approval for a kiwibuild package you are still able to purchase one. 

The numbers. The kiwibuild packages are $480k and for this you get a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom and 1 onsite car park. The floor area is 68 – 73 square meters and section sizes are 150 – 285 square meter range. 

How does this compare to the entry level homes that are no in kiwibuild. These prices start at $499k and from what I can determine you get the equivalent end product. 

So to summarize, this appears to be a high quality development that has been in the pipeline for some time and kiwibuild has purchased home and land packages from the developer, and have discounted them by $19k (or ~5%). 

I am not a developer, so cannot give a timeframe between what you current see on the ground and folks moving into their homes, but I am sure winton developments would be happy to discuss when you might be able to move in. Maybe any developers who read the blog might like to comment. 

Critique of kiwibuild decision. When Kiwibuild announced they were securing home and land in TK, I was flabbergasted.This is because you pay a high premium for wanting to live in this community which projects its exclusivity and upper class, compared to the surrounding communities. 

I have lived in Huntly and found it does have street and pockets on both sides of the river that meet the stereotype of Huntly being a low socio-economic area and all the ills that go with this. However there are areas that are very suburban, areas of lifestyle blocks and areas of high quality housing. 

We moved to Huntly because it was where we could afford to purchase our first home, since living in Hamilton meant we were unable to get onto the housing ladder. What was envisioned to be temporarily has become permanent since we enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and it provides all the services you would expect for a large town (physio, supermarket, doctors, etc). 

Land is very much cheaper in Huntly, for example trademe currently lists sections starting at $179k for 518 square meters in a part of town I would be happy to live in, and ex state houses starting at $189, in reality the more acceptable homes start in the $250-300k range. In ignoring these homes, kiwibuild are able to offer (a) less homes (b) spend more money (c) reduce the total price by 5% instead of 10% (d) enable people who can only afford $250k, instead of $480k to get into the property market.  So from an investment point of view, the government would get more bang for their buck by purchasing homes (or land) in Huntly instead of TK 

It also did my head in a bit to have Bayleys being the exclusive agents for this development. My image of bayleys is the top end real estate market, and I am sure Winton wants to project this image. But to me, kiwibuild isn’t about top end, but about helping folks get into the market that otherwise would not be able to. 

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