Kia ora, nga mihi māhana ki a koutou. Warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Patrick Costelloe and Garry Moore, Trust Chair and Managing Director of the Community Housing Trust respectively, and Rachael Faatili and her son Riko - tēnā koutou katoa.
I am rapt to be here to help celebrate another great milestone for the Community Housing Trust, to present one of the last four houses the Trust has shifted from the Red Zone. In doing so, we are sharing this special day for Rachael and Riko.
The loss of over 10,000 homes after the Canterbury earthquakes was a sudden reminder of how quickly Mother Nature can change the fortunes of innocent people – and how indiscriminate natural disasters are. What happened in Christchurch could happen in any city or town in New Zealand, and to any New Zealander.
Sir Francis Bacon said that “the virtue of adversity is fortitude”. So many people in Christchurch have faced adversity and disruption. They have had to draw on their very last reserves of fortitude – but when it comes to affordable housing, fortitude alone cannot bring about change. For that, we need a game-changer. The Community Housing Trust – the CHT - has taken on that challenge.
The example and the work of the Canterbury Community Housing Trust are important, and it’s why I agreed to be its patron in 2014.
Housing affordability is certainly a hot topic – and not just in New Zealand. It’s a complex issue, and how the Community Housing Trustees have decided to make their contribution reflects some of the new thinking that is needed to bring about change.
Home ownership is a consumer’s choice, but it is also something more. In many ways it is fundamental to individual well-being, and for the well-being of our communities.
When a family moves into a house, they become part of the social infrastructure of a local community. They are investing in the local school, the local library, the local shopping centre, the church and in community organisations. They can commit to a brighter future.
Homeowners are more likely to be healthy. Homeowners’ children are more likely to succeed at school. Homeowners are more likely to be able to set aside some funds for discretionary spend and for their future.
When the late Nelson Mandela said “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world [a] better place” – he could have been talking about the people who have given their expertise, time and enthusiasm to the Community Housing Trust. They have turned problems into opportunities, and they have made a difference to the lives of others by opening up a pathway to home ownership that would not have otherwise existed.
I appreciate that the work of the CHT has been challenging, and the Trust has not been able to achieve its ambitious targets. That has not been for lack of trying.
As we are witnessing today, the CHT has been successful in getting people into their own homes. Along the way, some innovative, cost-effective solutions have emerged – solutions that others will be able to take up in similar housing schemes around New Zealand.
I want to thank you everyone involved with CHT for your vision to make empty houses into liveable, affordable homes again.
Now, armed with what you have learned about the housing market, you will be able to move onto the next exciting phase of your work – the construction of new affordable homes. I wish you every success with that.
Rachael and Riko, it’s a privilege to be here at your home today. I hope you will be very happy here and I wish you all the very best with your new life in this community.