Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

OPINIONĀteaMay 29, 2024

What the Kāinga Ora review means for Māori housing

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

Now the recommendations are in, the next test will be the budget’s commitment to addressing Māori housing disparities, write Annie Te One and Jacqueline Paul.

The recently released Independent Review of Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities has shed some light on the unique housing challenges faced by Māori and the importance of place-based and Māori-led solutions in addressing these disparities. The report briefly points out the Crown’s Treaty obligations to Māori in relation to whenua Māori, and emphasises the need for increased support for Māori housing providers and communities.

Importantly, the review points out the disproportionate impact of housing issues on Māori. Homeownership rates among Māori have fallen to just 50% in 2018, significantly lower than the overall national rate of 65%. This disparity highlights the urgent need for targeted interventions to improve housing outcomes for Māori communities.

The report also identifies specific barriers to building housing on whenua Māori (Māori land), including access to finance and infrastructure. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Te Puni Kōkiri are currently reviewing these barriers, signalling a recognition of the unique challenges associated with developing housing on whenua Māori. These aspects will not be new to many working across the Māori housing sector.

The place-based approach to housing solutions and investment discussed in the report has been advanced through the Maihi (Māori and Iwi Housing Innovation) Framework for Action. This framework demonstrates the importance of Māori-led solutions in addressing housing challenges and highlights the progress made by housing agencies in partnering with local communities to be more responsive to their needs.

Te Korako Whānau Papakāinga at Rapaki, Ōtautahi Christchurch (Photo: Supplied)

One of the report’s key recommendations is to increase the provision of social housing by community housing providers, including iwi Māori. To this end, the report’s summary of feedback from correspondence suggests direct engagement between Kāinga Ora and Te Matapihi, the national Māori housing advocacy body. This recommendation underscores the importance of enabling Māori organisations to continue to play a central role in providing housing solutions for their communities.

The report also features a case study highlighting a partnership between Kāinga Ora and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira (Ngāti Toa) to provide social housing services and enable the iwi to acquire land for housing development. This partnership serves as a model for how government agencies and Māori organisations can work together to address housing challenges while also recognising the Treaty context and the potential for transferring housing stock and tenancy management to Māori organisations.

Another significant recommendation of the report is the establishment of Community Housing Associations, with iwi identified as potential partners. This recommendation acknowledges the importance of leveraging the expertise and resources of Māori communities in developing and implementing housing solutions.

The report also recognises the need for a dedicated focus on alleviating Māori housing stress and utilising Māori community housing providers to achieve this goal. This acknowledgement underscores the importance of targeted interventions and support for Māori-led housing initiatives.

While the report makes several important recommendations and acknowledges the unique housing challenges faced by Māori, it could potentially provide more detailed analysis and recommendations specifically focused on addressing Māori housing disparities. As the government prepares to release its budget, it will be important to see whether there is continued investment in Māori housing initiatives, building on the record investment made under the former Labour government.

The redirection towards place-based and local solutions, as outlined in the report, will require genuine commitment and increased funding to support Māori housing providers and communities. The upcoming budget will be a critical test of the government’s resolve to address Māori housing disparities and honour its Treaty obligations.

As Aotearoa New Zealand grapples with a housing crisis that disproportionately affects Māori, it is crucial that the insights and recommendations of the Kāinga Ora review are translated into meaningful action. The coalition government should continue to act as an enabler and further invest in Māori-led solutions by Māori housing providers and communities to ensure that Māori have access to safe, affordable, and culturally appropriate housing. Finally, the independent report (albeit briefly) acknowledges the Treaty as being a core consideration in housing decision-making, confirming that in order to address the housing crisis, Treaty partnerships must be continued and strengthened.

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