Location: Is there land available right now?.
Kainga Ora faces a problem with permanent building projects. There is a lack of available land with the right zoning. Immediate solutions are difficult, and will continue to be difficult until the Urban Development Bill becomes law.
This is not a problem for manufactured mobile trailer homes. There are four immediate land types that are available
HOLIDAY PARK/CAMPGROUND OPTION: At one time, middle and working class New Zealanders owned a caravan they towed to a holiday park or campground. Few do today, and until Covid-19 most were overseas visitors in campervans or freedom campers in cheap cars when they needed a shower. That market collapsed on 25 March 2020. Even before the collapse there were hundreds of campgrounds throughout NZ available for sale from private owners wishing to retire or on long term lease from councils. While there are limits on paper about how long a caravan can be parked at the campground, in many areas councils have overlooked this, officially or not, so that NZ’s most vulnerable have a place to live. Many of these are hidden slums, with residents living in broken down campervans and caravans.
These campgrounds are the most immediate solution because there will be no grumpy complaining neighbours. In fact the land use will improve with the upgrading the quality of living units, and no in-and-out of short-term occupants. The private sector is prepared to upgrade campgrounds if it can secure financing to acquire and clean up the sites. The advantage for this being done in concert with the factories is to provide a stable production flow. Use of campgrounds avoids almost all entanglement with council red tape. They are ready to go.
WHAREPUNI KAINGA OPTION: This option is not solely for Maori, but it is based on the timeless, proven development pattern that predated colonisation. It is therefore important to not presume this is solely a proposal for tangata whenua or urban indigenous peoples, but is for anyone who seeks a more socially-enriched and supportive living environment.
In precolonial Aotearoa, Maori lived in Kainga – villages on collectively held land. Unlike the modern marae which consists solely of a wharenui (the large tapu for sacred events, rites of passage, meetings and group sleeping) and the wharekai (the large noa building for food preparation and dining), the pre-colonial marae had numerous wharepuni, the small family homes, as shown in this painting.
In the whenua model, a larger block of land is selected, but not subdivided. The carpark is set near the road, no cars within. The wharepuni (mobile trailer home) sites are set around a large open space (the marae atea) that also has three large marquees:
- The Meeting Marquee for gatherings, childcare and learning
- The Dining Marquee with a BBQ and picnic tables
- The Workshop Marquee with tools where people can make things to use or to sell
INFILL-HOUSING OPTION As discussed above, the manufactured mobile trailer home is a small, mobile unit that can be parked on a residential section to serve as a self-contained accessory dwelling unit (or if no kitchen as a sleepout) for the time it is needed and then towed away when no longer of use. Many district plans have language like this from the Auckland Council Hauraki Gulf Islands Plan “Building means any structure or part of a structure. It also includes any fixed or moveable structure (including caravans) used for residential purposes, assembly or storage.” Note the key word “structure”. In the RMA Structure is defined “structure means any building, equipment, device, or other facility made by people and which is fixed to land”. Thus, a caravan (or in this case a manufactured mobile trailer home) that is not fixed to land is not a controlled or discretionary activity. This is not a loophole. It exists because as soon as any facility is fixed to land it is annexed to title, and it permanently alters the character of the property. In contrast, a mobile home is more like a car. It moves at will and it is personal property, not real estate. Housing NZ owns property throughout NZ. Many of these sites may be appropriate to add infill mobile trailer homes to provide warm, dry, safe and suitable housing for the years it will take central and local government to catch up.
The infill housing option can be used on HNZ land. It also can be used by WINZ where the land is privately owned. The limits to it are normal RMA effects. If a site has an onsite wastewater treatment system that is rated for three bedrooms and there is currently a three bedroom home, consent would be required to upgrade the system before towing on the mobile trailer home and hooking it up. Similar rules apply for site coverage, setbacks and other effects.
It should be noted that manufactured mobile trailer homes are designed to be installed by non-licensed persons. The power uses the higher-standard caravan connection that is plugged into a 16 or 32 amp power point. The water uses a potable water hose, similar to a garden hose. The wastewater uses a caravan-type connector.
REVERSE LAND-BANK OPTION: New Zealand is writing the National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land which is good in theory, but has a problem. Very few farmers in New Zealand make high-productivity use of highly productive land. Typical land use in NZ looks like this:
Highly productive land looks more like this market garden, where soil science is used to restore the topsoil to premium quality so it can grow nutritious foods with yields far greater than what passes for normal in New Zealand in 2020. New Zealand has one of the best combinations of mild-climate, year-round water, clean air (no industry in the Southern Hemisphere) and low-population density in relation to arable land. However, the planet does not need it to run highly productive farming. Not now.
The problem: Food, clothing and shelter are the three primary needs of human beings. In 2020, New Zealand does not have a food crisis, but does have an affordable shelter crisis. In recent times, university graduates with planning degrees adopted a green ethos that more resembles a religion than a scientific approach to balancing human needs with those of the planet. They secured jobs in the rule-writing industry, both in local government planning departments and central government ministries where they speak about highly productive farm land without having any idea what they are talking about. Except for the market garden farms that stock NZ supermarkets with domestic food, most NZ land use is exceptionally low in productivity. Dairy produces 80 grams/m² in dairy solids. Beef is 65 g/m². Contrast this with market gardens at 4,000 g/m².
Middle Class Mouths: Barring a pandemic killing billions, scientists project that by 2030, the planet’s middle class will grow by 2 billion. These people will demand a wide range of foods, more than rice and beans, where NZ has some of the finest arable land, mild climate and year-round rainfall to supply those needs. 80 g/m² will be discredited as unproductive land use as NZ will use soil science and technology to feed the world.
Reverse Land-banking: Until then, NZ must preserve its best, but low-production, farm land. Grazing cows, sheep and ponies should not take precedence over affordable housing. NZ needs a type of reverse land banking… finding good use for prime farm land now that can revert to food production when civilisation needs it. Right now, the nation needs land for affordable housing. Not permanent land, but immediate land until councils and central government can catch up – something that given the glacial pace of bureaucracy will take 15 years unless Covid-19 gives politicians the ability to crash the bureaucrats’ party.
How? Mobile homes are placed on not in the land with each having the same right to occupy contract that sets the same expiration date (so all are removed at the same time when land-reversion occurs). Special rules govern topsoil protection, such as no use or storage of chemicals to prevent topsoil contamination that allows the land to be “reverse land banked” to provide for human habitation that is needed now, but revert to prime agriculture land when global demand creates the market.
Pop-up mobile villages are a temporal land use. The units can be capitalised in five years and are typically designed to a 15-year refurbishment schedule. Prime farmland can be prepared with underground pipes and conduit to mobile home standpipes that remain when the pop-up village use passes. The potable water pipes would provide irrigation. The wastewater pipes can provide liquid nutrient supply and the conduit can power robotic farming equipment that may become prevalent in the future.