Waiheke Island is pitched as Auckland’s Jewel in the Crown, a playground of wine, art, pristine beaches and billionaire getaways. And yes, Waiheke does have all of that. But ask Waiheke’s Pastor Wiremu Te Taniwha of Living Waters Church to tell you about Waiheke and it is a very different story. New Zealand is polarising. Where once it had a solid middle, it is now increasingly dividing in the comfortable class and the struggling class. Pastor Wiremu runs the soup kitchen feeding those who otherwise would not have a full meal. And he started placing mobile homes on the church property.
The council’s position is that these are buildings, even though the RMA is clear that a building is a structure, and a structure is fixed to land. Zoning on Waiheke is elitist. In 2000 in Essentially Waiheke, it acknowledged the problem of unaffordable housing and committed to address it. Instead, 20 years later, the obstacles to providing affordable housing are even greater. The civil service does not care. The rules are the rules, but even when the rules are ultra vires, the council uses its greater resources to stand in the way of housing the hidden homeless.