Northland's boys in blue have donned hard hats and hi-vis vests, lending a hand to Habitat for Humanity's Metra Big Town Build.

Fourteen Northland police staff, including six sworn officers, are among the volunteers helping in the build, which kicked off yesterday, Homeworld, on Western Hills Drive in Whangarei.

"It's going very well," says Senior Constable Spencer Penney. Officers were working on the interior and exterior walls, with the ceiling going on at the end of the day.

"We've been making holes in the walls; cutting out spaces for doors and windows.

"We usually attend jobs where people have put holes in walls so it's a bit different for us to be making them," he said.

He said the Northland District Police Commander, Superintendent Russell Le Prou, opted for police staff to take part because working on such projects fitted well in improving Northlanders' lives. "We do our work in the community, and this is another way for us to help the community," Mr Penney said.

"They called for volunteers and the spaces were filled within hours. Police around Northland were really keen to get involved."

Melissa Savage from Metra Panel Construction, one of the major sponsors, said Habitat and Metra were a good fit: "It's really exciting to be part of such a good cause. We love Habitat's philosophy of giving a hand-up, rather than a hand-out."

"We've been associated with Habitat for over 20 years, and have completed around 40 [Habitat] homes in the Auckland region. This is our first in Northland."
Habitat for Humanity Northland executive officer Conrad LaPointe said seeing the project come to fruition was extremely exciting. "It makes us very excited to see the house go up so quickly," he said.

"We are already nearly in the final stages of another Habitat home for another family."

He said the build would continue till November 21, and on November 24 the house would be moved via truck to the site on 77 Alcoba Rd, Kamo.

The Metra Big Town Build is a home-ownership scheme for low-income families, in which Habitat offered a rent-to-buy scheme for the right family at a rate much lower than market rates for a period of eight years.

Applications from families closed on Thursday, and Habitat is interviewing suitable applicants.

A family would be selected at the end of November, Mr LaPointe said.

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