An iwi-led bid to fast-track over 600 new homes on a large section of land in Napier is now in the hands of consenters.

The iwi organisation in charge of the Riverbend Residential Development on a 22ha section of land just south of Maraenui Park says it’s what is needed to combat Hawke’s Bay’s housing crisis which has resulted in “too many of our whanau homeless and living in motels”.

The large project could get under way as early as late next year.

It is currently going through a fast-tracking consent process, under the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Projects Order, after the Ministry of the Environment decided it would create jobs and meet urgent affordable housing demands.

Riverbend Residential Development is a partnership between Ngāti Kahungunu construction company K3 Kahungunu Property, private developer Tawanui Developments and will also involve the Government.

The master plan is yet to be finalised but proposes over 600 homes and units of one, two and three storeys, green spaces, and shops.

“This is a partnership approach between K3 and other private developers and the journey began about one year ago,” K3 chief executive Aayden Clarke said.

“We still have a few steps to go through yet, but it is hoped we will be on the whenua preparing sites and starting to build in 2022.

“The subdivision will be delivered in stages, however we will attempt to have homes available as quickly as possible because our community needs and deserves this.”

Kainga Ora – a public housing provider in New Zealand – will be involved in the project.

Clarke said a decision was yet to be made on the “total housing mix” and they were working toward “home ownership, shared equity and affordable rental” options for the site.

He did not rule out transitional or emergency housing.

“There is no one more invested and motivated than us as iwi to being innovative and to create homes that are affordable and attainable.

“There are simply too many of our whanau homeless and living in motels.

“[We want] to provide a pathway for everyone in the community to achieve their housing aspirations.”

He said he understood people would be concerned by density issues, but “intensification is sometimes needed”.

“We understand that people would like the quarter-acre dream but that has become unaffordable to many because of the cost of land.

“K3 has a role to educate whanau on the future of housing and the reasons why intensification is sometimes needed.”

A large section of the proposed development site was purchased in June of this year for about $6.5 million, according to real estate data.

“The land purchase has been a working partnership approach between K3, Crown and private developer,” Clarke said.

The development site backs onto Maraenui Park and Maraenui Rugby and Sports Club and is also close to Pukemokimoki Marae.

The development site is currently known as 195 and 215 Riverbend Rd and 20 Waterworth Ave, and is used for horticulture purposes.

A Ministry for the Environment spokesman said the project was accepted by Environment Minister David Parker in August for the fast-tracking process, and was endorsed by Cabinet on October 25.

“Once a project is referred the applicants are able to apply to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for any relevant resource consents,” he said.

“A panel appointed by the EPA will consider the application and can either grant the relevant resource consents (subject to appropriate conditions) or decline the project.”

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Inc chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said it was a major project for the region.

“This is one of the biggest developments seen in the Ngāti Kahungunu rohe for years.”

Ngāti Pārau Hapū Trust chairman Chad Tareha has been helping provide advice for the project.

“It is a privilege to work alongside K3 on this project, which will be the first time a housing development of this scale will see genuine mana whenua engagement.”

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