‘Really unfair’: Māngere’s mother says $1,000 light rail tax would strain family budget

The government has chosen its preferred option for a new public transport service from the city center to Māngere. This is a light rail line that will run through tunnels between Wynyard Quarter and Mt Roskill.

A mother-of-two from Māngere says there is excitement in Auckland’s southern suburbs for light rail, but it’s ‘really unfair’ to charge residents $1,000 a year for the privilege .

Jo Latif has lived in Māngere for 11 years. She is the communications manager for Māngere College, editor of 275times, a digital newspaper for people to share community events and successes; and member of a community housing group.

She says the opportunities offered by light rail to revitalize the city centre, businesses and better public transport links to the rest of Auckland are exciting.

Some people, she says, worry about disruptions during construction, but if done right, it will be great for the community.

“The rail link needs to be done with great sensitivity in Māngere. Our community is already going through a tumultuous time with the huge Kainga Ora housing estate, impending gentrification, rising housing prices and growing divide caused by Covid-19” , she said.

Māngere's wife, Jo Latif, says a proposed $1,000 light rail tax is unfair and will put pressure on the family budget.  Photo / Provided
Māngere’s wife, Jo Latif, says a proposed $1,000 light rail tax is unfair and will put pressure on the family budget. Photo / Provided

Asked about a possible $1,000 charge on Māngere households to help pay for the light rail, Latif said it was “really unfair” and would add stress to her own family budget.

“I see [a charge for] businesses, new businesses or developers are accepted, but for residents who have come here and settled, I don’t see that as being fair.

“When property prices go up, it’s going to force more people out and create a new divide and more gentrification,” Latif said.

Māngere City Center Manager Dave Fearon said Auckland’s southern suburbs have the lowest income bracket in Auckland and additional costs will impact people.

He said the community liked the idea of ​​the light rail, saying that Māngere was stuck on a spur of land and the ability to get around was very limited and time-consuming.

“The ability to just go to Onehunga, the city or the airport makes a lot of sense. They’re talking about every five minutes or so to get a train where you want to go, that sounds pretty good to me,” said Fearon, adding the region is expected to grow by 30,000 or 40,000 people over the next 10 to 15 years.

Jose P. Rogers