Kāinga Ora under fire after Black Power gang party in Whangārei state house

By Lane Nichols

A terrified elderly couple say they were forced to cower inside their home after their abusive Kāinga Ora neighbours held a Black Power party at which a police officer was allegedly assaulted and a reveller tried to steal a patrol car.

As the party kicked off on Saturday night, police advised the Whangārei couple to stay inside their neighbouring Kāinga Ora property for their own safety.

Patched gang members boozed from hours of drinking allegedly crashed a car outside the property and urinated in their shared driveway while shouting obscenities as officers dealt with the disorder.

Kāinga Ora admits it was aware of the planned gathering but says it was powerless to stop it, instead advising neighbours to call police with any concerns.

"It was horrific," the 69-year-old wife told the Herald.

"I was a mess. I was shaking like a leaf."

The Herald reported last week how the couple had been subjected to death threats by one of the tenants - a Black Power gang member who allegedly threatened to slit the 82-year-old husband's throat and watch him "bleed out".

Associate Minister Public Housing Poto Williams has asked for a briefing on the Whangārei case. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Associate Minister Public Housing Poto Williams told the Herald people deserve to feel safe in their homes and her agency says the tenants' behaviour is "unacceptable".

Following recent coverage of the issue, the Government was now reviewing how its "sustaining tenancies" policy was being implemented and if changes were necessary, Williams said.

Following multiple police callouts to the Whangārei property, Kāinga Ora is now paying for the couple to attend weekly counselling sessions and daily security patrols, and offered to relocate them to an Air BnB at the taxpayer's expense while it tries to convince the offending tenants to move to another state house.

Desperate to remain in their own home, the elderly couple were today granted a restraining order against their neighbours by a district court judge.

One person was arrested for assaulting a police officer and police say another person tried to steal a patrol vehicle. Photo / Supplied

They accuse Kāinga Ora of inaction due to a policy that prevents eviction of antisocial tenants unless in "extreme" cases, which has been highlighted in a Herald investigation.

The couple say a tenancy manager informed them on Friday that Kāinga Ora "was allowing" a 21st party to go ahead.

The couple are disgusted the gathering was allowed to take place given the campaign of intimidation they say they've been subjected to by the tenants in recent months.

Their daughter spent Saturday night at the house to protect her parents.

"The woman was just doing her nut. F-ing this and f-ing that. Very abusive, angry and drunk. I listened to my mother crying herself to sleep. It was awful."

She said the tenants repeatedly boasted they were "exercising their right" because the landlord had approved the party.

"I think it was just insulting. It's almost like they were just rubbing it in their face."

Police confirmed a woman was arrested for assaulting an officer. It's understood she is the property's principal tenant.

National's housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis says Kāinga Ora's no eviction policy breaches its legal obligations to law-abiding tenants. Photo / Mark Mitchell

National's housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis has complained to the minister and Kāinga Ora board about the agency's handling of the case.

She said Kāinga Ora was failing to meet its legal obligations as a landlord.

Willis has written to the minister calling for the agency to abandon its no evictions policy to protect the rights of other law-abiding state housing tenants

"The law here is clear: all tenants have a right to enjoy their home without unreasonable interference from other tenants," the letter says.

"It is a landlord's responsibility to take actions which uphold that right. Kāinga Ora's no-terminations policy undermines its ability to protect the safety of its other tenants.

"The evictions ban is reaping a terrible toll on innocent New Zealanders across the country. I implore you to intervene to remedy these issues."

Kāinga Ora deputy CEO for Auckland and Northland, Caroline Butterworth, said the agency had been concerned about this case for some time, and had worked with police, Oranga Tamariki and other support agencies to address it as a priority.

"The behaviour has been unacceptable, including the events on Saturday night. We know it is difficult and upsetting for neighbours – no one should ever feel unsafe in their home."

Kāinga Ora sought legal advice on its ability to stop the party, "but like any landlord there is no option for us to prevent it from occurring. We told our customers it was a bad idea, and let the neighbours know that the party was planned, and encouraged them to contact the police if they had any concerns.

"The behaviours from Saturday night are now being dealt with through the justice system, we are focused on our role of housing those most in need."

Butterworth said relocating customer was a last resort, which factored in the needs of children.

Minister Williams said the sustaining tenancies policy aimed to avoid tenants becoming homeless and often involved intensive management of complex cases.

"Rather than throwing people out on the street, often including children who are blameless in the situation, we have made a conscious choice to actively manage difficult tenants, providing wrap around support from a range of government agencies and other community health providers."

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