The demolition of the empty state housing stock earmarked as unsafe in Maraenui is underway.
It is a bitter sweet time for the locals as they come to terms with the changing face of their community.
Generations of history and memories are going down with the dust, as these empty state houses meet their end after more than three years of sitting empty.
Grandmother Maggie Harmer had three of her grandchildren live in these old units and she is happy to see them finally being torn down.
“My grandchildren were always sick always, and up in the bedrooms it was just full of black mould,” says Harmer.
The demolition of 33 blocks has commenced following a decision by Housing New Zealand to address the housing situation in Maraenui.
This also meant the relocation of another 13 groups of tenants which immediately raised public concern.
In a media statement, Housing New Zealand says that "33 houses will be demolished because they are earthquake prone or they are no longer fit for purpose."
“In a way it's good to go, to make our community look fresher and clean but all we want is replacements,” says Haamiora Waihape.
Which now leaves the question open, what will replace these empty spaces? The consultation campaign is being led by Rōpū ā Iwi Trust, who is encouraging people to have their say on what they would like to see happen.
Community Advocate Derek Huata says, “I want them to build big homes for big families and bring those people that they relocated back into the Maraenui community.”
Waihape says, “We need a lot in Maraenui for our kids. Waterpark, barbecues for the kids, new houses, big houses.”
Options could include private purchase of empty plots, social housing or intergenerational homes that include granny flats.
Rōpū ā-Iwi Trust will put all feedback and data into a "Needs Analysis" report to be completed by June before any decisions are made.