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Some participants considered that housing quality in Ōwhango was generally considered to be low due to the overall age of the housing stock in the village.

"I think a lot of it it’s really old stuff so trying to get it up to that healthy homes standard is really hard. There is a lot less new builds here than in other areas."
"They’re mill houses. It burnt down I think in the 60s or something. So the houses, the majority were for workers’ housing."
"Our house was built in the 1990s but even a house built then is not well insulated. It was insulated to the code then, but it’s not well insulated. No doubling glazing. "

It was also considered that in the surrounding area the housing stock was likely poor:

"I imagine that a lot of the farmers’ houses or the workers’ houses on all of the farms are probably not in great conditions. Farmers don't tend to live in great houses until they retire. There are very few really high-quality homes in the area apart from the new builds. They're all on lifestyle blocks. Residentially there's not much of that."

Others, however, noted that over time, newer houses had gradually appeared in and around Ōwhango. Participants felt that the number of houses bought over time as holiday houses mean that the population had not increased significantly, however.

"But there has been a steady increase of houses being built over time. Like, I've got an aerial photograph of Ōwhango looking from over there, and if you look at that there's hardly any houses particularly over there and that was in the late 70s and early 80s. But since then, there’s been a lot of infilling. So the stock, it's not all old, but over a range of time. And more recently there's been quite a few new houses."
"I've seen more houses in this area in the time that I’ve been here, but I’ve also seen a lot of holiday homes so it doesn't necessarily mean more people. "

A large proportion of houses in Ōwhango were not inhabited fulltime but were used intermittently as holiday homes, and of those, it wasn’t considered that very many were rented out as short term lets.

"About 40% of the houses in the village itself are holiday homes. So some of those you could just about call old wooden cottages. They weren’t built as holiday homes though."
"I don't know how many locals actually live in those houses. Most of them are pretty decent nick from the exterior anyway. The most derelict houses are actually probably on the main street, on State Highway Four."
"Very few of them are Airbnb, owners or friends of owners come and stay in them. "

More recently a new subdivision had provided land for new builds near Ōwhango, where approximately twenty new houses had been built:
"One thing we’re lucky with Ōwhango is that they’ve had that new subdivision so that's allowed a lot of people to build. It was farmland that has been turned into a subdivision. National Park, for example, is struggling because they've got no land available for that. "

In terms of building new houses however, some participants were concerned that it was becoming difficult to obtain appropriate consent for building in Ōwhango, and concerns were expressed about the requirements and costs for sewerage systems:

"Is there something about not being able to build on titles here in the village because of the septic problems?"
"I've heard that, I don't know any details. My understanding is that there are some people in the village who made a submission to the Council about having a sewerage system here. Everyone is on septic tanks and on pumice, some on good drainage. Most of this is lahar of one form or another. The District Council can issue consent for a sewerage scheme for sewerage to land, provided that sewerage is treated. But if it isn't treated then you need to get resource consent from the Regional Council."
"Which is a nightmare!"
"And the Regional Council insist that you get Iwi to agree to your scheme, and Iwi aren't interested in this petty tokenism. So trying to get Iwi to consent can take longer than building a house."
"We had to get four Iwi to consent to ours. And pay them."
"And they're not interested, are they?"
"No. We had to get a report to say they don't oppose, but they don't have the staffing to do that."
"Some people have had to put in an electric treatment system if they don’t have enough land. It’s about how much land you’re on. The cost of those is pretty prohibitive."
"I don’t think there should be a sewerage system. I think the reason people are concerned about not being able to put in a septic tank is because they have brought properties under a set of rules, now the rules have changed and they can't build on it because of the restrictions of the septic system. But they can… they could put in a natural toilet, there's lots of things people can do if they had the imagination to do it."
"There is a problem with water around here. They can only connect so many more to the drinking supply. The water supply here goes almost as far as Kakahi, it goes a long way. It is a Council scheme, brings the water from a weir on the Whakapapa River to a tiny little tank on a hill and then it's gravity fed. It wasn't originally a Council one, it was a community one originally. So there's also the issue that only one water line is firefighting standard in the whole town. If they run a fire engine with a pump on it they’ve to be very careful things down collapse, that they don't implode the pump. "

In a situation unchanged since 2020, it was considered that there is very low availability of houses to rent in Ōwhango.

"I would consider that there are very few rentals if at all."
"I expect that there is demand for rentals and that they would be filled if they were available."
"When the schoolhouse was available they had lots of people ringing, emails. There are often people asking about rentals."

Participants identified a number of factors driving demand for rentals:

"Probably families who can’t get a rental in town."
"People want to send their kids to Ōwhango School as well. It's one of the most desirable schools in the whole regions."
"Also, it's not too far from the mountain if people are interested in skiing."
"We know people who have moved here for the trout fishing, or for the climate. Stuff grows, it’s out of the fog."
"The ones I can think of are mostly retired."
"Whereas the ones I can think of are young, with kids. Or even younger, just left school and now working and looking for somewhere to rent."
"It would be 50-50, younger families and older… I don’t know."

Similar to 2020, there were not many houses available to buy in Ōwhango. Whereas in 2020, homes were still considered relatively affordable, this was not considered to be so in 2023, though houses were considered cheaper than other areas.

"There is not a heap of stock available at the moment. There’s a few. But it’s not... I don’t know, it’s not the creme de la crème. There’s not heaps of stock here. Anecdotally people say I'd love to move to Ōwhango but in reality there's not a lot for sale here and there hasn't been much sold in the last 12 months. One person just took their house off the market, it wasn't selling."
"It's interest rates. We're a very affordable region in general but, even $400,000 is a lot if you're paying eight or nine percent interest."
"There’s not a huge amount of choice if you’re looking for a home or a rental so you sort of have to take what you can get."
"A lot of people appreciate living rurally. A lot of people don't want to live in the city. A lot of people can afford something here that they can't afford in the city."

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