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Source: Auckland Council

We’re well underway deconstructing the first Category 3 houses in Muriwai and we’re about to start with the next cluster of homes in Rānui and Henderson.

More than 700 homes will be removed over the next two years, and Auckland Council has engaged a panel of companies with the necessary deconstruction expertise to undertake the work.

Recovery Office Homes and Houses Programme Manager Kris Bird says it’s a more complex, lengthy and costly project than the average Aucklander might think. He shares a few of the challenges of this mammoth task.


An asbestos survey is always carried out on a property if it is to be deconstructed, and fortunately the council has its own accredited laboratory to ascertain if asbestos is present and to recommend the best practice for removing it.

Of the 46 asbestos surveys completed for storm-damaged homes so far, 21 houses had asbestos present. But Mr Bird adds that sometimes not all of it is found until deconstruction is underway, which adds more cost and delays. 

Polystyrene in concrete

Polystyrene in concrete slabs is very common in new builds for insulation purposes, but it creates a costly headache when trying to recycle.

“Concrete can easily be crushed and recycled for uses like hard fill and gravel roads , but trying to separate the polystyrene is not easy and if it can’t be separated the whole lot has to go to landfill at a cost $275 per tonne,” says Mr Bird.

Tricky access

Many of the homes being removed have shared or narrow driveways or are located at the top of retaining walls, all of which make it difficult to navigate heavy equipment during the removal of the home. In many cases the neighbouring house isn’t being removed which adds to access issues.

Cross leases and unit titles

Different risk categories may have been applied to different units, which Mr Bird says could mean the council has to rebuild half of a unit to let another unit remain, or remove the back half of a duplex property in a delicate way to ensure the front house can stay.

Retrieving personal items

During the settlement process, we ask the former owner to put forward requests for any items they were unable to retrieve from the home themselves.

“There’s certainly been a variety of items requested from spa pools, sheds and sections of floorboards, to kids’ height charts inscribed on wall panels,” says Mr Bird.

“Removing hundreds of storm-affected homes across Tāmaki Makaurau will not be a linear programme, with plenty of tricky situations needing solutions along the way. The most important consideration is that we work closely with the community to deliver the work in a respectful manner.”

To find out where the recycled materials end up, check out these videos from the Muriwai deconstruction work.