New Zealand Employee Affordable Housing Supplied By An Unusual Company Town

arial shot of Ohinewain New Zealand taken in 1940
1940 Ohinewa photo by LINZ is licensed under CC BY 3.0
The railway station at Ohinewai, New Zealand, centre right in this photo, closed in 1978, but could re-open as part of the relocation plan for the Aukland company Sleepyhead.

Company towns have a special relationship with their citizens. They are usually, though not always, born out of necessity: their remote location.

Why create a town in the middle of nowhere? A common reason is for resource extraction of some kind. A mine, for example, can be too far from existing civilization — in some wilderness without housing where there are no local papers or bulletin boards to post job opportunities. Company towns get around this by recruiting in distant locations, promising housing and all necessary amenities for a good life will be purpose-built for their employees right next to their new place of work.

We’ve recently done a story proposing that, thanks to the rising cost of housing in some cities, it is possible to think of a ‘company’ needing to support its workers with a kind of company town within an urban ‘wilderness’ effectively without housing. Try: Mountain View, CA: Hardship Posting For Teachers Plays ‘Company Town’

From New Zealand comes the story of a company town that is neither a conceptual town within a town, nor a more conventional remote company town forced by circumstance to exist in the middle of nowhere. The company in question, called Sleepyhead, is not a resource extraction company, but a bedding manufacturer. With expansion necessary, Sleepyhead decided that its own ‘home’ affordability costs mirrored those of its own employees.

Sleepyhead chose an unconventional solution for a conventional manufacturing company, banishing itself along with its employees to a location that is notionally at least in the ‘middle of nowhere’, at least compared to its former home in the expensive North Island city of Aukland. Read more at Radio New Zealand: Dreams Come True – Sleepyhead Workers To Get Affordable Town


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