Maori housing scheme thrives

By John Cousins

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The impact of Maori housing initiatives will be most clearly seen at this high-profile site at Mangatawa, visible from State Highway 2 just past Truman Lane, where 20 houses will be built.
The impact of Maori housing initiatives will be most clearly seen at this high-profile site at Mangatawa, visible from State Highway 2 just past Truman Lane, where 20 houses will be built.

Tauranga is leading the country in the construction of new houses on multiple-owned Maori land, with another 50 homes due to be finished by next November.

The huge progress being made on marae-based papakainga housing projects was showcased by Pio Kawe, a member of the Western Bay of Plenty Maori Housing Forum.

His presentation yesterday to a joint meeting of tangata whenua and Tauranga City Council detailed how 26 homes had been completed since 2010 when the scheme was pioneered by Papamoa's Horaparaikete Trust which built six homes in Taranaki Lane.

Another 20 homes had been added in Tauranga and the wider Western Bay, with the scheme now cranking up to its ultimate goal of building 252 houses on land owned by 10 Maori land trusts.

Mr Kawe said the goal was to increase the number of affordable, sustainable and healthy papakainga housing.

A graphic example of the lift in housing standards was when whanau and kaumatua were shifted out of a collection of caravans and shacks on the Welcome Bay Rd block on the corner of Kairua Rd.

The process has been led by a group comprising the Western Bay's councils, Te Puni Kokiri, the Maori Land Court, the Social Housing Unit and Housing NZ.

Mr Kawe said the Western Bay was leading the country in the development of papakainga housing, with significant advantages accruing from their ability to work collectively with the agencies. The houses were funded by a mix of contributions from the Government's Social Housing Unit, Maori trusts and the individuals who ended up living in the homes.

Occupants of the first 76 homes will be evenly split between kaumatua (elders) and whanau (family) rentals and whanau ownership. Lending sources included the KiwiBank's Government-guaranteed Kainga Whenua loan scheme.

Mr Kawe said a lot of work had gone into getting the scheme to this point, and no one realised what had been achieved until they attended the National Maori Housing Conference in Whanganui last month.

He said the goal of 252 houses was realistic, although the application for $12.6 million for housing infrastructure works on lands owned by the 10 trusts had been declined by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

The issues around reaching the goal would be Government funding for social housing and the ability of trusts to fund their own houses. Trusts promoted the collective management of land under multiple Maori ownership.

Getting the infrastructure in place was vital.

"The longer it takes us to bring Maori land on line to produce homes, the more expensive it will become in the future," Mr Kawe said.

Western Bay Papakainga Maori Housing 2010-15

Pirihima Whanau Trust: 10 houses
Ngati Kahu and Te Pura Trust: 20 houses
Mangatawa Papamoa Inc: 32 houses
Pukekohatu Trust: 3 houses
Tauwhao & Te Ngare Trust: 5 houses
Horaparaikete Trust: 6 houses

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