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Wallaceville Estate: A sense of community and common goals

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03 Apr 2024
Central wallaceville
"We were excited for the future”


According to Rangiiria, being in the same boat as others around her is one of the coolest aspects of Habitat for Humanity’s Progressive Home Ownership (PHO) programme.

Rangiiria (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe), her husband Nathaniel (Cook Island), and their two children, Te Ariki and Amara (now aged 15 and 12), moved into their new home in Wallaceville Estate in May 2023. They were one of five families selected for new homes through Habitat Central Region’s rent-to-own programme in Upper Hutt, which sees families work towards first-time home ownership over a period of up to 10 years.

The families first met each other 10 months ago, on the day they were formally welcomed to their new homes at a special dedication ceremony. The houses are all within the same block, with four out of the five sharing a pedestrian accessway.

“There’s a real sense of community, especially within our little block,” Rangiiria says. “Every now and then we have get-togethers where we pull some tables and chairs out the front and all have a catch up.”

Rangiiria says if she leaves the front door open, one of the neighbourhood kids is bound to run in. Her children are a bit older than the others in the neighbourhood, but she keeps a box of toys at the ready and all the kids know where to find it.

One evening, there was a power cut in the neighbourhood and her daughter rummaged up a bunch of glow sticks and torches, and put some music on their portable speaker to keep the kids entertained.

Rangiiria and Nathaniel both grew up living in Housing New Zealand homes, often moving from place to place, so for Rangiiria, the allure of homeownership is stability and having something that is theirs – something that can one day be passed on to their children.

Through Habitat’s PHO programme, families pay affordable rent, which contributes towards a deposit for a mortgage. The house is valued before the family first moves in, and this is the agreed purchase price when the family is ready to purchase the property. This value doesn’t change, even if property values go up.

It was Rangiiria’s mum who first learned of the PHO programme and passed the information on to her.

Rangiiria said she spoke with Nathaniel “and was like, ‘what do we have to lose?’ We thought we’d just take the chance and the worst that’s going to happen is we’d have to stay put.”

Sadly, around the time they were filling in the application, Rangiiria’s mum became unwell with cancer, and has since passed away.

“When I found out we’d been accepted, I told my mum the good news and she was super rapt about it.”

In the weeks before the dedication day, Rangiiria admits to often driving the other way home from her job as a financial mentor so she could have a nosy at the build site. When the day rolled around at last, they invited a bunch of their family members along to share the moment with them.

“When we were able to actually, finally, open the door and come in, it was just exciting. We were excited for the future.”

The most noticeable change in their living situation is having a warm, dry, healthy home. Rangiiria says the house is so easy to heat up or cool down – a stark difference to the house they were living in prior, which was older, poorly insulated, and in need of maintenance.

“Even just the layout of this house, I feel like it’s just perfect for us. Everyone has their own spaces if they need to log out of the family for a minute.”

She’s driven to keep working towards home ownership and has big dreams of using this house as a stepping stone, with aspirations of one day planning and building their own forever home. However, she acknowledges that “just getting to the stepping stone is a huge goal in itself”.

Habitat’s PHO opportunities in Wallaceville were supported by the Progressive Home Ownership Fund – a $400 million investment provided by the government to support individuals, families, and whānau who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to buy their own homes.

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