The most significant area of resident housing in Waiouru belongs to the Army. There is a smaller area of residential housing outside of the Army Housing Area. However, there are very few good quality houses available for purchase or rent. Because of the low resale value of houses in Waiouru it is difficult to get a bank loan to undertake often much needed renovations or improvements.
“It’s pretty impossible to get something decent. I don’t think they’ve been up kept. And if, say, you’re a first-time buyer and going into a house, there’s so much work to be done on it it’s hard to get the extra funds to do it. I suppose you could get farm ones, but they’re, you know, pricey.”
Houses are generally considered affordable though increasing in price. A consequence of the lower house prices in Waiouru is that homeowners risk over capitalising if they spend significant amounts on maintenance, repairs or renovation.
“They’re not expensive, it’s just the resale value. I know someone who’s got a house for sale but no one wants to buy here. In saying that though I can think of two houses in my street that have been up for sale but they’ve been bought. But the houses, they tend to be quite cheap to buy, but then you shouldn’t expect to get any capital gain. If you put 100k into a $200,000 house you probably wouldn’t get $300,000 for it. But prices of houses are going up. What I’ve found is if I was wanting to live here it’s extremely hard to find a piece of land to build on. There’s only two sections in Waiouru that I know of.”
“The house (for sale) would be single glazed and would need quite a bit of work done on it to bring it up to standard. And I’ve been primed to buy a house, and I’m not against buying one here. It’s an incredibly landlocked town. You’ve got all the army on one side, and I think there’s 52 houses in Waiouru that aren’t owned by the army and they’re all locked on the other side.”
“You don’t come here to live, to buy. You come here to work or own a business or a farm or you’re a policeman. […] Personally, I would go to Ohakune to buy a house.”
The availability and quality of rental housing in Waiouru was considered to be poor, however unlike other areas it was not considered to be strongly influenced by the buy-up of houses for holiday homes or tourist rentals.
“It’s an ongoing problem, not much accommodation here for renting and the accommodation is shoddy. It’s just unbelievable what they put up with, some of the renters here. It doesn’t meet standards not at all. I went to Taihape and bought a house so if I needed a rental for my staff they would have accommodation. Because there’s nothing available in Taihape either and you’re always seeing on all the Facebook pages people looking for accommodation.”
“The house across the road was bought by an outsider that had a family connection to here. He’s not a local, not with two sports cars like that! So that was probably our first outsider for quite a while. Because that was a house I looked at buying. I think it went for more than it should have. Prices have gone up but they’re still, you can pick up a house for a couple of hundred thousand.”
“There’s not the demand to move to Waiouru.”
For people employed by, and sometimes contracted to the Army, there is housing available in the Army housing area and it is considered affordable. However the quality of the housing is variable and in some cases considered to be below standard.
“It depends on the house you’re in. We’re in an old house that can’t be underfloor insulated. And they did offer us another house but then they just would have offered our old house to someone else. They wouldn’t fix the problem unless they were going to pull it down. So that’s something that no one is dealing with, is what’s happening with the houses that can’t be insulated... However, the house is warm, we fought for years to get a pot belly in the kitchen so the house is warm. But see, we’re not a family of complainers. We’ve got a nice house and cheap rent so we just make do.”
“There’s houses with pink signs in the windows which mean they’re tenanted and some are empty, and some can stay empty for a whole year without someone moving in. I think the rationale is that the empty houses are the ones that need doing up. But I agree some are empty for a year. And in fact one of the newest houses was empty for ages, absolutely ages. And people would be giving their first born to move into one of those houses because they’re new and double glazed. To modern standards.”
“There are people from ‘Kune and Raetihi who actually work in camp. I don’t think everyone can be housed here. It’s not guaranteed. So like when you join as a civilian you can apply for a house but that doesn’t mean you get one. I think it’s like, so many for ESL - one of the contractors in camp - and so many for ****, um, and **** are the three main contractors so there is only a certain number of houses for those particular groups so if you get it right and at the right time you get a house but otherwise you have to live elsewhere and then transportation is a problem”.
“Most people don’t want to come here. Waiouru is an exception to the housing policy rule. Usually you have a six-year limit to stay in Army housing but in Waiouru there is an exception because there’s no other housing available. It doesn’t count to six years in an army house. So it gives young families, young NCOs and officers a chance to save some money.”
There is housing available for providers of essential services such as police and teachers, however they are usually fully occupied.
“There is no houses for the teachers if we needed them. The school owns a house and three flats but we have five teachers and a principal. The principal is currently in an army house and if we needed to house them it would be a barrier.”
“There are three houses here for police, one in the camp housing area, and the two others. And they’ve only just this year actually done what they should have done all along, just had double glazing put in. Some of the houses are still not insulated underneath. The only thing that keeps a good number of officers coming through here is they get paid more than other towns and of course the cheap rentals.”