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Elderly Tāmaki tenant vows to fight on


Elderly Tāmaki tenant vows to fight on
Tuesday 6 June 2017
5:32pm

The District Court’s judgement against Ioela (Niki) Rauti earlier today is not the end but only the beginning, say dozens of people gathered outside Niki’s home at 14 Taniwha St, Glen Innes. The judgement took two weeks to be released, reflecting the gravity of this decision and the lives it would impact.

Niki is now working to put an appeal of the decision through to the High Court.

Lisa Gibson, one of Niki’s supporters and member of community protest group Tāmaki Housing Group, says, “Whilst this decision has gone against Niki, it by no way means that her fight for the right to stay in her home has ended. In fact, for us, her fight has only just begun. We would expect that Tāmaki Regeneration would not act hastily, by not acting before Niki is able to exercise her right to pursuing justice through the legal system.”

The court case Niki brought against her landlord, Tāmaki Regeneration Ltd. (TRL), was based on their failings in following the correct procedures in their efforts to evict her from her home of 23 years. TRL claimed at the District Court hearing that their failure to follow the law were “minor breaches”. However the redevelopment in Glen Innes is the guinea pig of the privatisation of state housing, and state housing and social housing tenants should be able to rely on the letter of the law in a time of great upheaval.

Niki, as well as thousands of other households, has been unclear about who the new landlord is. It hasn’t helped that there are three different organisations with similar names and shared staff: Tāmaki Redevelopment Company, Tāmaki Regeneration Ltd., and Tāmaki Housing Association Limited Partnership. Furthermore, the organisations have a conflict of interest in the eviction of tenants in the Tāmaki area. While Tāmaki Housing Association is responsible for tenants, Tāmaki Regeneration Ltd. is responsible for evicting them and selling the land off. More recently, it was announced that less than a year after the transfer, Tāmaki Housing Association was to be sold off, further increasing confusion for the community, and indicating that the transfer is indeed, about privatisation.[1]

TRC’s repeated claims that they have offered Niki other homes, one of them 500 meters down the road, whitewashes the reality of gentrification and TRC’s role in that pushout of the poor, and Māori and Pasifika families. Supporter Vanessa Cole, whose 2015 University of Auckland Masters thesis examined the changes in the Glen Innes community, is at the occupation. Vanessa says, “international research shows that the model they are using in Tāmaki is a form of state-led gentrification by stealth. Developers are profiting from increasing land values and buying up cheap public land.”

Niki has been fighting the gentrification of her community for six years and threat of eviction first from Housing NZ and now from Tāmaki Regeneration Ltd. for 3 years. This judgement, she says, “is only a setback.” Niki says, “I don’t want to be transient, I am fighting the privatisation of state housing for the poor, the sick, elderly and vulnerable.”

While TRC is promising the ‘Tāmaki Guarantee’, for people to stay in the community, this is not the reality. Other members of the Tāmaki community have been moved several times. One tenant who had cancer and has since passed was moved three times in her last years.

In April 2016 Housing New Zealand gave away 2,700 state houses to Tāmaki Redevelopment Company (TRC). TRC then transferred them to Tāmaki Regeneration Ltd, an organisation established to evict tenants, demolish their homes, and sell the land to private property development companies.

[1] http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/327072/social-housing-project-on-market-after-just-a-year

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