I went to a meeting last night about the redevelopment happening in Glen Innes. I think I mentioned bumping into some people that I know while in Wellington for the NZ Open Source Awards who were down there to protest the redevelopment.
Here's the thing. We know that the redevelopment probably would have happened under Labour. Hell - it probably needs to happen. So what is the problem?
Firstly, think about Housing New Zealand. While people are being moved away and getting letters from Housing NZ about their having to move at some point in the future, people have to talk to a voice on a phone - assuming they can get through and don't get hung up on. It takes the human out of communications.
A point was made about "grid blocks". Sounds horrible when talking about housing right? It turns out a grid block is essentially a block i.e. an area of land surrounded by roads. It was actually a really good indication of just how badly the communication has been thus far.
The change manager in me wants to say something about engaging the stakeholders. I should probably explain the word "stakeholders" as it oh so often goes wrong.
I heard of a university research project whose end of project dinner didn't include any of the people being researched. Given that research should ultimately result in helping those being researched, they are stakeholders. A big portion of NZ'ers and the National government probably don't see those living in those houses as stakeholders but...
One person was pointed out as having received a letter from Housing New Zealand back in April about having to move. She lives next door to her auntie. She doesn't know when she's got to move out. Is it worth planting some tomatoes? That feeling of uncertainty has left her in a state of limbo.
Another woman got up and spoke about the fact that she too has received one of these letters. Her family all live close by. She works in one of the schools in the area and her kids go to another one near by. She walks everywhere. Her moving out of the area would detach her from family, work and friends. Her whole life.
And then there's the school's problem with staffing. If people are moved out of the area, then school rolls go down and funding decreases leading to staff cuts. If you have a programme - such as Manaiakalani - being developed, then there's a considerable amount of investment in staff. Professional Development and the type. This is nothing to scoff at.
Come on down Len Brown. Len Brown was late to the meeting due to the destruction and deaths caused by the hurricanes in Hobsonville. I'm a bit of a fan boy of his. I loved the cap put on gambling machines in South Auckland. He's a very humble and approachable person. I couldn't have thought of a better person to take on the mess that is the "Super City". Actually - I was a little annoyed this morning when I looked for news on the hurricanes and was surprised to see that Len Brown wasn't mentioned at all. John Key however.... In terms of putting a human face to the destruction, John Key is not an ideal choice. Bob Parker was always my go to face for the destruction in Christchurch. Likewise, I feel that Len Brown should be the human face on this disaster. Perhaps a little coaching on the right wording i.e. it would be political suicide to try and compare the 2-3 - apparently one is missing and most likely dead but unconfirmed - deaths and damage to homes to the Christchurch earthquakes.
So Len Brown talked about reopening the Housing New Zealand office in Glen Innes. How he would be working with the local board to try and improve communications and see if people could be kept within the community while these changes are happening. Any help in reducing the uncertainty that Housing NZ and our government seem so unconcerned by would be a majour win.
But I find myself worried. We've got Len Brown! I've great confidence in him and I think we're in for interesting times BUT what about those other areas going through similar redevelopment? The National Government are REALLY bad at engaging with people. Even if we have our champion here, who's championing in these other areas?