29 Nov 2016

Affordable housing tops wishlist for Mt Roskill voters

7:22 am on 29 November 2016

With the Mt Roskill by-election just a few days away, rising rents and house prices in the area remain top concern for voters.

An auction sign outside a house for sale in Auckland.

Unaffordable rents are forcing some Mt Roskill residents to move elsewhere. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Voters go to the polls on Saturday, and Labour's Michael Wood and National's Parmjeet Parmar are the two front-runners for the seat left vacant when Phil Goff won the Auckland mayoralty.

According to QV, the average house value in Mt Roskill is pushing closer towards the $1 million mark, and rents are on the rise as well.

The minister at Lynfield Community Church, Nyasha Gumbeze, said it had become too expensive for many.

"A lot of people are leaving Mt Roskill to go to other places because Mt Roskill is getting very expensive to live in," she said.

"I'll give you an example of people from my own church who had to move out of Lynfield because they can't afford rentals in Lynfield."

In her role as the programme co-ordinator for the Global Lighthouse Mission, local woman Tili Leilua works with young people and less fortunate families in Mt Roskill.

She said many of the families she deals with are struggling to afford higher and higher rents. Some are living in crowded houses and others are thinking about leaving Auckland altogether.

But Steven Reid, who's the general manager of the Three Kings United Football Club and is heavily involved in the sporting community, doubted how much the byeleciton winner could do to change the situation.

"Unless there's a sweeping change, and that's driven by government, then I cannot see local candidates within the electorate of Mt Roskill making any effective change."

Mount Roskill by-election candidates Michael Woods, for Labour and Parmjeet Parmar, for National.

Mount Roskill by-election candidates Michael Woods, for Labour and Parmjeet Parmar, for National. Photo: Supplied

Public transport has been a big talking point throughout the campaign, with Labour promising light rail and National offering more buses and fewer priority transit lanes.

But Mr Reid said people just need to be encouraged to leave their cars at home and get on board with the public transport that's already there.

"You can say 'Let's get more buses on the routes, let's get better service', but I actually think it comes down to the education of the community to actually be a little bit more accepting that the public transport that's there in the first place, and leaving cars at home."

When it comes to choosing their new MP, Ms Gumbeze said they wanted someone who puts words into action.

"People really don't care how much you know - they want to know how much you care," she said."

"So in a new MP, people are looking for someone who understands their needs and wants to do something about it; an MP who will listen and take those issues to the higher powers to Parliament, and be able to speak on behalf of their people and make sure some of those needs are met."

Mt Roskill is one of New Zealand's most diverse electorates.

Just over half of the population was born overseas, and close to 40 percent are Asian - about three times the national average.

The Mt Roskill electorate comprises Three Kings, Waikowhai, Wesley, part of Mt Eden, Royal Oak, Hillsborough, part of Onehunga and part of Lynfield.

Advance voting in the by-election is underway and more than 2000 votes have already been cast.

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