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Older people

Affordable housing for Waimate's older residents

Situated halfway between Timaru and Oamaru, Waimate has been growing in popularity over the years as a place to settle. However, consistent with the national trend, Waimate’s population is ageing. A growing concern among the community was the low incomes of older residents, and the affordability of local housing. For example, only 22.4 percent of those aged 65 years and over in Waimate received more than $20,000 a year. This compares with 32.2 percent for all of New Zealand.

The Waimate District Council knew that the increasing number of older residents on low incomes was putting pressure on low- to mid-range housing options. The council is now seeking funding from the government to build additional affordable accommodation as part of the Housing Innovation Fund.

Data from the 2006 Census was consistent with the council’s perceived changes in the local population and could be used to strengthen their case for additional government funding. Older residents are looking forward to more affordable housing in the future. The rest of the community will also benefit from less pressure on the rental market.

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Evacuation planning in Auckland

New Zealand lies on a major fault-line and residents live with the risk of major natural disasters. Based on a variety of civil defence scenarios, the Auckland City Council is planning for a worst-case disaster in order to lessen the effects of such an event, should it occur.

Between 2007 and 2008 the Auckland City Council carried out a civil defence exercise called Exercise Ruaumoko, which centred on a potential volcanic eruption within the Manukau Harbour. The planning and intelligence sector within the Civil Defence Team was required to provide various demographic statistics for areas within the impact zone. These statistics helped to inform the evacuation strategy and identify the resources needed to evacuate all residents.

Data from the 2006 Census informed the Civil Defence Team about employed population counts in the area, which gave them an indication of weekday evacuation numbers. Age structure information combined with usual residence counts provided the locations of different age groups throughout the region. Rodney district, for instance, has the highest proportion of people aged 65 years and over in the Auckland region – 14.9 percent compared with 8.3 percent in Manukau City. This is important to know, as older residents tend to require more assistance in an emergency. The census also provides information on people’s access to telecommunication systems for evacuation warnings, and access to motor vehicles for ability to self-evacuate.

It is hoped that Aucklanders will not have to deal with a significant natural disaster, but if they do, they can be assured that the council and Civil Defence are well-informed and prepared for such an event.

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Hauraki ageing gracefully

New Zealand's population is ageing and all over the country, programmes are emerging to meet the needs of ageing New Zealanders.

The Hauraki District Council suspected that their population of over 65-year-olds was growing. The council looked at census information to determine where numbers were increasing and how rapidly these were rising. Especially useful were the time series comparisons provided by the five-yearly census. They could compare Hauraki today with Hauraki 10 or 20 years ago, and make plans for 20 years from now.

From 1996 to 2006, the number of residents 65 years and over in Hauraki has been steadily increasing. This is especially true in Waihi, Paeroa and Ngatea, where people in this age group make up 21.8, 21.6 and 23.2 percent of the population, respectively. These proportions are significantly higher than the national average of 12.3 percent.

The older residents of Hauraki are keen attendees at their local libraries, and use them as places to socialise. Now, the Waihi, Paeroa and Ngatea libraries will have increased age-specific information, an improvement in services, and targeted book selection. The community is also looking forward to enjoying more reading spaces, improved access for mobility scooters and more seating in the Waihi and Paeroa libraries.

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Improving bungalows in Buller

Buller’s hospitality is world renowned but they also know how to look after their own. Buller has a higher percentage of people aged 60 years and over on low incomes than the national average. The Buller District Council wants to improve the standard of the affordable accommodation it provides for these residents. Housing New Zealand’s Housing Innovation Fund supports local council housing needs that are not fully met by Housing New Zealand or the private market, such as housing for older people and people with disabilities.

The council used census information to identify the number of over 60-year-olds in the area with low incomes, and low income-to-rent ratios. At the time of the 2006 Census, only 11.5 percent of people aged over 60 years receive an income of $30,000 a year or more. The council also looked at population projections to estimate demand for housing in the future. By combining this information, the council had the evidence it needed to apply for additional funding.

Following the successful application in 2006/07, over 20 bungalows in Westport and Reefton are now being upgraded for older residents. The bungalows will have better access to bathrooms for people with disabilities, and improved safety and security features.

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