2017 AHI New Zealand Awards For Professional Excellence in Housing

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa acted as a stunning backdrop to the 2017 AHI New Zealand Professional Excellence in Housing Awards on 8th June.

As always, the kiwi contenders proved an inspirational bunch, leading off with Rosie Gallen from City Housing, Wellington City Council who, indeed, nabbed the award for Inspirational Team Member.

Without the team I have around me, our tenant communities might look and feel very different

Having held the role of Community Action & Engagement Manager since 2008, Rosie’s open, collaborative and “possibility-focused leadership” has created an environment where the tenant community feels safer and less lonely, despite nine years of major upheaval for neighbourhoods and massive challenges for the organisation.

“The key words for me are ‘team member’,” says Rosie when reflecting on the win with HousingWORKS. “Without the team I have around me, our tenant communities might look and feel very different – more like they did a decade ago when many people didn’t feel safe at home on our complexes. We have the privilege of making a difference.”

Alice Daniel-Kirk of Housing New Zealand received a Highly Commended acknowledgement for Inspirational Team Member.

In just a few years, Alice has worked her way up from the contact centre to the role of area manager for Wellington, with responsibility for nearly 3,400 tenants at more than 1,500 tenancies. Alice’s colleagues nominated her because she inspires her staff, tenants and the wider community by rolling up her sleeves and ‘mucking in’.

“I felt privileged to even be nominated, let alone receive the commendation,” admits Alice on her achievement. “It’s a reflection of the vision and work put in by all who have supported me and inspired me to inspire others. I have the opportunity to work with amazing people who want to make a difference.”

City Housing’s Community Action Programme won the Leading Community Engagement Practice category.

The massive upgrade of City Housing’s stock has been a significant challenge, given over 2,000 tenants were directly affected by this essential improvement. One thousand households have been relocated to date, displaced by major upgrade work, while renewal works have disrupted many other residents in an effort to make their properties warmer, dryer and safer.

The Community Action Plan has successfully implemented a range of tenant-centred strategies to minimise the impacts of the redevelopment – increasing wellbeing; encouraging neighbourliness, increasing social inclusion; facilitating learning and development, tenant participation opportunities and engagement; and facilitating access to support services in tandem with the tenancy management team’s focus on welfare and sustaining tenancies.

In the Leading Housing Development Project category, the Ta-maki Makaurau Community Housing Limited project beat out a strong field of nominees.

The outcomes that have been delivered through Waimahia Inlet have exceeded all expectations

Waimahia Inlet in Auckland is a planned, mixed-tenure community of 295 homes designed by one of New Zealand’s leading architectural firms. An outstanding example of collaboration among a number of agencies, iwi, government and community, the outcomes that have been delivered through Waimahia Inlet have exceeded all expectations: 70 percent of dwellings have been provided by community housing providers, and over 90 percent of those dwellings have been deemed financially affordable by Crown guidelines.

“We accepted the award with gratitude and a touch of frustration,” says New Zealand Housing Foundation’s General Manager of Strategy and Development, Paul Gilberd. “The project to date has been a raging success by all measures; however, the New Zealand Government – a foundation financial supporter of the project – have since reduced funding in affordable housing development of that kind by 100 percent to zero so there is currently very limited scope to repeat the success.”

We’re not going to view the project as complete until the community of people who live there are safe and secure

When asked what is next for him and his team at New Zealand Housing Foundation, Paul displays the same tell-tale dedication the judges noted in deciding the category winner: “We’re not going to view the project as complete until the community of people who live there are safe and secure, and sustainably managing themselves, and they tell us that they are enjoying improved quality of life.”

It was yet another win for Wellington City Council’s City Housing Team, this time for Excellence in Social Housing.

In 2008, City Housing commenced a 20-year programme to upgrade their 2,200 social housing units, integrated with a community engagement and development programme to strengthen community participation and pride. Nine years on, and the programmes have collected numerous awards and evidence of profoundly transformed lives – even for tenants of non-upgraded properties – with satisfaction ratings exceeding 90 percent.

“While we received four awards at this year’s AHI New Zealand Awards, for me, receiving the Excellence in Social Housing Award was special, as this was all about doing what we say – making tenant wellbeing a top priority,” says City Housing Manager John McDonald.

The winners of this year’s Leading Innovation award, the Community and Public Health Team at the Canterbury District Health Board, were acknowledged for the development of their Smokefree Social Housing Toolkit.

The adverse health effects of smoking have been well documented but, despite the overall decline of smokers in both New Zealand and Australia, the number of people still lighting up in lower socio-economic groups remains comparatively high.

“In social housing settings, the human cost of smoking in terms of health and financial burden for tenants and their families, and the related risks for property owners (e.g. fire, property maintenance, health and safety, etc.) are concerns often left in the ‘too hard’ basket,” says Dr David Brinson, an analyst with the Community and Public Health eam at the Canterbury District Health Board.

In social housing settings, the human cost of smoking are concerns often left in the ‘too hard’ basket

With this in mind, the team developed the Smokefree Toolkit for housing providers, which highlights the benefits of smokefree social housing, and blends people, place and policy to achieve positive health and non-health outcomes.

“We were thrilled to win the award,” says Kate Matthews who worked on the project. “It provides an opportunity to share the smokefree concept and tools with a wider audience, and work with people who really have the ability to empower our disadvantaged communities to improve their wellbeing.”

Dr David Brinson concurs: “It was very satisfying to win the award. Anything that raises awareness of the Smokefree Social Housing Toolkit is a plus. It’s really satisfying to illustrate that a smokefree social housing policy can result in ‘win-wins’ for tenants, housing providers and the wider community… and it’s achievable!”

With its seeds sewn in a rousing karaoke session attended by City Housing tenants at the Newtown Park Matariki celebrations in June 2015, City Housing’s C.H.O.I.R programme (Creating Harmony Optimistically in Rhythm) members found themselves taking out top honours in the Tenant Led Initiative category a little over a year later.

United by an interest in singing and experiences of varying degrees of isolation, the members of the group found their feet by taking C.H.O.I.R’s act to rest homes in the local community. Over the course of their performances, they tapped into the positive energy of collective singing to the extent that C.H.O.I.R members are now also experiencing gains in personal development, fitness, friendships and creation of community.

To build social housing without thinking who is living there would be only doing half the job. It’s about community, and a community having fun is a safe and healthy one

“This is what it’s all about for us,” says City Housing’s Manager, John McDonald. “There’s a huge focus right now on more housing – which is absolutely essential – but to build social housing without thinking who is living there would be only doing half the job. It’s about community, and a community having fun is a safe and healthy one.”

“It’s nice to be rewarded for the work you love doing,” says City Housing’s Senior Community Advisor, Corrina McGregor. “We were completely surprised because there are a lot of other good projects out there. We’re shining this year.”

Peter Jeffries is CEO of CORT Community Housing, which provides social housing for people on very low incomes in Auckland. He was the very worthy recipient of the 2017 AHI New Zealand Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Between 2015 and 2017, Peter has led CORT Community Housing through a period of remarkable growth, taking a lead role in a number of new community housing developments that showcase excellent affordable social housing options – perhaps, most notably, the Waimahia Inlet development.

Peter’s vision for Community Housing in Aotearoa New Zealand has benefitted all those in the industry, and he continues to generously share his knowledge and experience.

“It was fantastic to receive acknowledgement and recognition from the sector for being involved in some of the things that we’ve achieved in the provision of social and affordable housing,” says Peter. “I’ve been involved for the last 10 years and the sector’s come a long way over that time. There’s a number of great organisations and people involved in the sector.”

The New Zealand sector’s still in its infancy

“The New Zealand sector’s still in its infancy,” he continues. “But I feel we’re starting to come of age now and that’s all been through a lot of hard work from others involved in the sector. It’s been quite a collective movement forward.”

We look forward to our Aotearoa colleagues flying ‘across the ditch’ to join us for the AHI Australasian Awards shortly.

Click here to download photographs from the reception.

Click here for more information about AHI’s Professional Excellence in Housing Awards.