Skyrocketing house prices mean Aucklanders’ can no longer ignore happenings south of the Bombay Hills, as competitive house and land packages spark a population explosion ‘south of the border.’
Figures show the North Waikato town of Te Kauwhata has turned a predicted population drop into positive growth figures.
Statistics New Zealand predicted a declining population based on 2006 census results.
This has been reversed by a growing trend of Aucklanders buying affordably in the town largely known as ‘TK’.
Pokeno and Waiuku are also experiencing huge growth.
The Waikato District Council expects Pokeno to triple from a population of around 2000 to 6000 by the mid-2000s.
Census results from 2013 show that Waiuku experienced a 28 per cent population increase since 2001.
The positive growth figures are also a turnaround for Pokeno, which was hit hard when State Highway One bypassed it for a new route in the early 1990s, leaving a population of just 500.
Waikato District councillor and Te Kauwhata community committee board member Jan Sedgwick said Aucklander’s attitudes to towns south of the Bombay Hills was noticeably changing.
“As it has become financially unviable for many people to live in Auckland, they’ve started looking over the hill and discovered it’s actually very attractive,” she said.
Former Auckland resident turned Te Kauwhata local Ann Hardman said it was very unlikely she and her husband would move again.
“We can actually get to our daughter and grandchildren’s place in Titirangi faster from here than we could when we lived in Gulf Harbour. With the ever-improving roading systems we’ve also got great proximity to Hamilton where we have other children and grandchildren.”
Generation Homes Waikato Director Alana Savage said the demand for new homes had increased so dramatically that the company, which is a top 10 national construction firm, was opening a showhome in Te Kauwhata in late June.
“Te Kauwhata is a high-growth area, and it’s certainly looking like it’ll stay that way. Even though there’s lots of new builds going in, the town still has a sense of history and a really nice feel. When you couple that with easy access to many spots it’s not surprising the town’s proving to be very popular.”
Housing Minister Nick Smith recently said the government’s KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme, which came into effect on 1 April, would help 90,000 first-home buyers begin the process of home ownership.
“The next key measure is our planned second phase of the Resource Management Act reforms to tackle the long-term issues affecting housing affordability and supply.”
Both Sedgwick and Savage agreed that the recent steps taken by the government would be a particular bonus for Te Kauwhata.
Hardman summed it up from a resident’s perspective.
“TK is a wonderful place to be living in. It's a great spot between Auckland and Hamilton, the Coromandel peninsula and Raglan, and has that real country community feel. It's a wonderful place for children to grow up in, and for those who want to improve their lifestyle and leave the stresses of Auckland behind,” she said.
Data from realestate.co.nz shows there was a 114 per cent jump in the number of Aucklander’s using the website to search for Waikato properties during the mid 2014-15 period.
Press Release: Convergence