The Government’s recently released MAIHI Ka Ora, the National Māori Housing strategy, envisages a future where “all whānau have safe, healthy, affordable homes with secure tenure, across the Māori housing continuum.” – it’s an ideal that should ultimately be extended to all New Zealanders, so why the particular focus on a Māori Housing strategy?
Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: He Kāinga Whakamana Tangata, Whakamana Taiao research has helped highlight the alarming decline in Māori homeownership – in 1936, 71 percent of Māori lived in dwellings that the whānau owned, by 1991 the ownership rate had fallen to 56 percent, by 2013 it was at 43 percent (See Homeless and landless in two generations). Māori homeownership rates are well below those of the rest of the population, even when accounting for the differences in age structures of the populations.
Ngā Wai a Te Tūī researcher and Building Better research partner Jackie Paul (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga) says this is a social and cultural issue, which needs to be challenged. A circuit-breaker is needed.
“The housing continuum idea in Aotearoa has been vital to shaping housing policy and economic settings. However, the mainstream housing continuum doesn’t incorporate a Māori worldview or approach to housing and has few opportunities for Māori-based initiatives to addressing Māori housing needs. Homelessness, overcrowding, social housing, and papakāinga require action and urgency.”
A Building Better research team (Lee-Morgan et al., 2019) argues that marae are fundamental to contributing to the Māori housing continuum and exercising rangatiratanga.
Just before winter 2016, Te Puea Memorial Marae opened their doors to anyone in desperate need of shelter and support. Following in the cultural tradition of manaakitanga and the legacy of Te Puea Hērangi, this grassroots initiative was dubbed by the marae, ‘Manaaki Tāngata’.
Research led by Building Better’s Associate Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan (Waikato-Tainui) and Rau Hoskins (Ngāpuhi) explores the work of the marae, which has continued and developed with a focus on supporting whānau not only to secure housing tenancy, but also on supporting home-building to achieve whānau ora.
Jackie says the MAIHI Ka Ora (MAIHI – Māori and Iwi Housing Innovation) strategy is a step in the right direction and aligns with her own recent research on housing strategies and policies in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“The cost of housing outstrips the earning capacity of most Māori and the housing market will continue to exacerbate rising inequalities and housing stress. It is particularly distressing for Māori, who are the most severely deprived, despite representing almost 17 percent of the population,” says Jackie.
Jackie has recently returned to Aotearoa after completing her Masters degree at the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge. Her thesis work involved interviewing 24 Māori experts and specialists across the housing sector.
“The rich and valuable kōrero from these interviews shaped the core findings of the research – we need Te Tiriti-anchored housing strategies to support intergenerational Māori housing aspirations to meet the diverse needs of whānau, hapū, iwi, and Māori. Giving Māori communities an active role to develop initiatives and disseminate new knowledge is critical in developing housing policy – I feel that the MAIHI Ka Ora strategy is getting us closer to this ideal.
“The Government Policy Statement on Housing and Urban Development was released at the same time as MAIHI Ka Ora and supports a genuine partnership under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. There is potentially exciting positive change ahead if the words are actually put into practice.”
MAIHI Ka Ora is a strategy that has been co-designed with Māori in the housing sector; its implementation demands both Māori and the Crown work together in genuine partnership.
A critical part of MAIHI was the establishment of Te MAIHI Whare Wānanga. Te MAIHI Whare Wānanga brings together representatives from the Māori housing sector and Crown officials to oversee the delivery of the MAIHI Framework for Action, from responding to the immediate housing crisis for Māori to reviewing and resetting the long term system to provide equitable solutions for Māori.
The plans are ambitious, with 1000 additional new houses planned by 2024 – with 305 houses planned over the next 24 months; repairs and renovations for 700 Māori-owned houses to reduce the number of whānau Māori living in unsafe or substandard housing situations; and functional First Home Products to enable Māori to borrow money to become home owners.
The Government has also recently announced a Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga fund (jointly administered by Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development) and a Māori Infrastructure Fund to help drive the vision of MAIHI Ka Ora. Eligibility to apply for the funds include registered business with a minimum of 50 percent Māori ownership; Māori Authorities, which include trusts and incorporations under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, Māori Trust Boards, and post-settlement governance entities (and their subsidiaries) established through Treaty settlement processes.
“Māori in particular have been profoundly affected by a lack of housing security; this is about more than material security. Housing insecurity impacts on whānau health, use of te reo Māori, care of whenua and the environment, the ability to provide sustenance and hospitality for themselves and others, and many other aspects of wellbeing,” says Jackie.
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