Population increase sees more challenges for Northland

By Regan Paranihi

The Whangarei District Council has seen a 50 percent population increase in their provincial city over the last five years.

With the increase, low-income families risk overcrowding and even homelessness as people compete for space.

Community houses in Whangārei are being affected by the increase, and Liz Cassidy-Nelson says that 95 percent of their guests are Māori.

"People that are missing out on homes are people that are on the lowest end of the income range," she says.

"We've now got people living in overcrowded housing, substandard housing, people living in garages.  It just got to a point where the government needs to do something and they need to do something now."

Whānau support worker Michelle Toko says most whānau members don't come forward.

"Our whānau are scared to come forward to access services in the fear of their children being removed from their care," she says.

However, the Whangarei District Council chief executive officer Rob Forlong says the population increase also affects other major areas in the district.

"That creates issues for us around congestion, parking issues with the large number of cars we're seeing on the roads- and in storm water, that'll take us a long time to get on top of."

He says it's a problem across the whole of Northland, but it's one they are all working on in collaboration.

"Certainly in Northland, there's a shortage and we're working with the other councils in Northland and thinking of ways that we can help to fix that."

With the population continuing to rise, solutions can't come fast enough.