| Background


In 2014, Rangimarie Trust purchased an old villa at the front of a large section at 45 King St, Ōpōtiki, as the trustees recognised the urgent need for more single bedroom well-maintained fully accessible homes in this area. Again the location is close to the CBD, within easy reach of Ōpōtiki’s main street, and only 400m from the ŌpōtikiPostShop.

Rangimarie trustees approached Bill McKay, senior lecturer at Auckland University School of Architecture with assistance with designs for this section.

The brief included ramps, raised floors to mitigate risk of flooding, wider doorways to accommodate wheelchair users and a wet floor bathroom, with a maximum budget of $90,000 per unit. We also requested that the units face north to maximise the passive solar heating in winter and have a deep, roofed verandah to ensure shade during the summer.

Bill sent the Trust’s brief to his architecture students to see what they could create and third-year undergraduate architecture students Wendy Zheng and Juno Huang’s designs proved to be exactly what the Trust had been looking for. The students, both from China, came up with plans for a small cluster of houses, each with private living spaces, but an overall village feel, to accommodate single elderly people.

Having obtained Resource and Building consent with the students design adapted by local architect Mia Jenkins, we were in a position to apply for grants to help us fund the project. Rangimarie Trust was very fortunate to be the recipient of a very generous grant from Bay Trust.   This allowed us to apply for a mortgage from KiwiBank and to fast track the building project. The Lion Foundation also helped enormously by providing a grant which went towards the cost of the kitchen units and floor coverings for the units.

The old villa was demolished in August 2016 and material recycled as much as possible and Waiotahi Contractors prepared the site for building. Local builder Richard Howe won the tender and commenced building that same month, despite dreadful winter weather.

Interest in renting the units was high from the outset and without advertising 15+ prospective tenants applied, confirming our belief that there remains a huge need for social housing for elderly and vulnerable people in Ōpōtiki.

The four units were launched by Mayor John Forbes at the opening ceremony on Tuesday 19 September 2017. Kaumatua Frank Te Wheki Porter said a karakia, Ōpōtiki Primary school student Honey Black cut the ribbon and the school’s kapa haka group sang a waiata at the event. The six tenants moved into their brand new units that same week.

Juno Huang Wendy Zheng

Juno Huang Wendy Zhang

Unit 5 kitchen

Conceptual drawing

Bearers down at King St

Bearers down at King St

King St Unit prior to grass being laid

King St Unit prior to grass being laid