South Waikato could hold the key to developing large scale off-site manufacturing of pre-fabricated housing to help meet New Zealand’s current and future housing needs.
South Waikato District Council says it recognises the capacity constraints that exist within the building industry to meet the government’s target of building 100,000 KiwiBuild homes.
The council fully supports Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s stance that off-site manufacture will be a major medium-term enabler of the future Kiwibuild programme.
South Waikato mayor Jenny Shattock says since the early 1890s, native timber processing in Putaruru, through to the establishment of commercial forests of pinus radiata in the 1920s, and up to building the Kinleith Timber, Pulp and Paper Mill in 1954, the South Waikato has been at the forefront of technological innovations in timber processing.
“Timber is in the DNA of our people, and our community is ready and able to support the expansion of off-site modular housing in New Zealand,” she says.
Largest private housing development
The largest town in the South Waikato, Tokoroa was established as the largest private housing development in New Zealand history in 1948, with around 800 homes built in what was a model of innovative modular urban housing design at the time.
Commenting on the South Waikato’s ability to support this potential development, South Waikato District Council chief executive Craig Hobbs said the region had a plentiful supply of low cost, appropriately zoned land, located on State Highway 1.
“We are within two and half hours’ drive of over half of New Zealand’s population, combined with rail links to the Port of Tauranga and the Ports of Auckland.
“Through local long-standing partnerships with Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology, we are able to support new enterprises in securing a work-ready labour supply, equipped with practical and relevant skills.
“As a business-friendly council, we stand ready to talk to potential investors looking for the best location to set up their business in New Zealand to meet the Government’s objectives in this area,” he said.
The South Waikato is home to local iwi Raukawa, and an ethnically-diverse community with significant Maori and Pasifika populations, and is famous for its strong community spirit.
With affordable housing and abundant recreational activities, Mr Hobbs says it is living proof that the “kiwi dream” is still a reality.