In this article, I will discuss Kainga Ora’s current no eviction policy. However, I will start with a personal story in relation to a Kainga Ora tenant.
I have lived next to Kainga Ora housing for 36 years and for the most part, without incident. Earlier this year I wrote about the problems our street had in dealing with Kainga Ora in removing a gang they had placed in our cul de sac in mid-2020, and the implications of Kainga Ora being so obstinate in dealing with us.
Recently, I was watching TV at 10:30 on Sunday night when two guys from the Kainga Ora flats “invaded” my house. It was one of the few times that I forgot to lock my front door. From what I established, they made a beeline straight to my place. Concerningly, they knew how to open the gate and they entered my place. It was frightening and I was slightly startled to see one of them standing in the entrance to my living room looking at me. I calmly got up and asked him what he was doing in my house, and he said, so and so said he could chill out/crash at my place. In my best coaching voice, I said “no” and ushered him into the hallway. That is when I saw the second guy. My quick analysis suggested they were not in an aggressive frame of mind, but that is beside the point. I managed to usher them out and sent them on their way. I saw them exiting my section and heading down to the flats. It took me at least two hours to recover.
I rang the police, who arrived 15-20 minutes later. Because of the “low nature” of the home invasion, I have not pursued the matter further. The next day, I realised how vulnerable I was. Luckily, they were not on P or carrying weapons. This home invasion could have had a more serious outcome. Thus, the experience has left me on edge, as well as my neighbours. I now double lock my front door.
It was a totally unacceptable intrusion of my privacy and security. My worry is this event could have resulted in a far worse outcome for me than it did, or for that matter, to anyone of my neighbours, if it re-occurs.
The relevance of this incident to Kainga Ora’s no eviction policy is how this links to the increasingly brazen and anti-social behaviour of this unworkable policy. A stick and carrot approach are needed to reduce and potentially stop the worst of the offending. Several high-profile cases have come to prominence over the last few weeks (each have relevance to my recent experience that could have had a far worse outcome).
The first case is the elderly couple who were constantly intimidated and harassed by Black Power. The 82-year-old man was threatened that if he was not careful, he would have his throat slit. I can only guess they are still being harassed, but it is only one step away from Black Power invading his residence because Black Power know there will be no repercussions. There is a small likelihood they will be moved on, and in all probability, not evicted. The police will not take any action (they have not done to date, so why would they change their no action policy? – remember, government policy is to reduce, not increase prison numbers).
Secondly, there was the couple who relocated to the South Island because they had had enough of the anti-social behaviour, violence, drugs, and intimidation. The father feared for his wife and young daughter. Yet again, Kainga Ora failed to move the delinquent tenants on or evict them, and the police failed to find a way to make appropriate arrests to quell the problem.
Thirdly, and most disturbingly, one young lawyer has taken a restraining order out on the Kainga Ora tenants next door and action against Kainga Ora. The lawyer and others have appealed to the Minister of Housing and the Prime Minster for help, without any support. Nicola Willis of the National party highlighted that Kainga Ora are in breach of Section 45 of the Kainga Ora Act. Effectively, the government is in breach of its own act and acting in defiance of the law. The rights of victims and law-abiding citizens are being deliberately ignored by a government that is in pursuit of a political ideology with no common sense, let alone it bordering on illegal. When a government acts in this way, the country is heading into dangerous and murky waters.
The National government introduced a policy of sustainable housing, which Labour have taken to another level. Sustainable housing does not imply a no eviction policy. A no eviction policy does not have a bottom line, or the semblance of consequence. The natural response we are seeing to this policy is that antisocial behaviour goes unpunished, and those perpetrating such behaviour know this and are simply emboldened to not only carry out such behaviour, but in fact take it to another level of abuse of neighbours in the form of increasing harassment, intimidation and destruction of property, both theirs and their neighbours. Meanwhile, the innocent neighbours suffer in near perpetuity. I have witnessed how ineffective and unresponsive Kainga Ora management were over time. I was lucky in the sense the problem we had was escalating to other streets. It was becoming an increasingly dangerous situation and Kainga Ora was forced to act by moving the gang from our street (the cul de sac is now back to normal).
A no eviction policy is deeply flawed. The solution is that the no eviction policy needs to be removed, as it implies there is no consequence to antisocial behaviour. The replacement is a carrot and stick approach. An example of this is the vaccine mandate. If you get vaccinated, you are rewarded with multiple choices and freedom of movement. If you choose not to get vaccinated, then your freedoms are greatly reduced. Common sense suggests it is wise to get vaccinated and have no restrictions. Conversely, if antisocial tenants know they can be evicted, then they should by logic, temper their behaviour.
People have said to me, and the Labour government are saying that children are involved here. That is a nebulous argument, because it is only a part of the problem, not a reason to not evict a bad tenant. How might an eviction policy work, that takes in the needs of children?
In the case of unruly tenants, they need a stick approach. They do not necessarily respond to restorative meetings or reviews. They potentially view these meetings and wrap around services as light weight and irrelevant to them if there is no consequence to their antisocial behaviour. If there was a consequence to their actions, the first step is removal to another place, as currently exists (but rarely used and only used as a last resort, causing much anguish to neighbours). Further, Kainga Ora should have the ability to move these people to somewhere fellow neighbours are not greatly impacted. This step should not be considered a last resort, but early intervention to protect fellow and stressed neighbours. If moving the antisocial neighbours to somewhere else does not work and they continue to be unruly, then eviction should be enacted, probably as a last resort, but it should be used. These people would know they are moving to emergency housing or similar, not onto the street (though sadly, this maybe the only thing a delinquent and antisocial “family” may respond to- if such a threat existed).
To support this policy, tenants committing serious crime and intimidation need to be arrested and incarcerated. For example, I witnessed gang members being arrested in my street at 8am, only to return at 3pm and back out on the street by 4pm and into the evening dealing in drugs, intimidation and violence. Here the police and courts need to play their role, as this is not necessarily Kainga Ora’s role.
Programmes exist for prisoners to help them address their crimes. Whilst I do not have details on these programmes, my suggestion is that these programmes not only address the crimes committed, but how such behaviour has a consequence for both society and the individual. For example, assuming the sentence maybe for two to three years, but if they do not complete the programme, they are not paroled until they have both completed the course and understand the consequence of their actions. An example of this is Scott Watson who has not completed such programmes, so the parole board refuses to release him on parole.
While it is considered politically and socially incorrect, agencies must be able to remove affected children from dysfunctional family environments to provide wrap around services and a protective environment. Leaving children in an environment of abuse, drugs and violence only helps encourage the continual cycle of antisocial behaviour. I can provide two examples of how this non removal affects children. The first is a story of police finding a ten-year-old boy sitting on a swing in a playground in the dark at 10pm. The police asked him why he was there. He said it was the safest place for him to be. Secondly, a police friend told me when she was working in South Auckland, it was not unusual for her to have a child on her lap while she wrote up a report or helping them play with toys or give them a good feed. They felt safe. This should not be the police’s role, but sadly, in many cases this does fall to the police.
These are only some of the options to authorities. Sadly, when the government openly breaks its own laws and acts of parliament, by not protecting its own citizens from criminal activity and intimidation, then society has entered a dangerous place of potentially no return. Furthermore, when a government fails to implement a policy of no eviction for antisocial behaviour, then this sets a serious moral standard for antisocial behaviour to go unpunished and that it is ok, and the rule of law becomes seriously undermined.
This government has implemented seriously misguided policies and values that allow and encourage the breakdown of moral and social values in the misguided belief that punishment does not work. The consequence of this, is that it is only a short step away from intimidation to home invasion. This is not acceptable, but it is fast becoming a reality where security cameras, coded locks and security fencing is a necessary requirement for those living next to a Kainga Ora owned house. This is not South Africa yet, but it is becoming increasingly like it for some New Zealanders.