A national housing hui hoped to help develop and improve Maori housing is happening in Tauranga for the first time today.
The high-profile National Maori Housing Conference will be held at ASB Arena for three days to explore strategic local, regional and international housing solutions.
It's the first time biennial event is being held in Tauranga since the inaugural event began in Rotorua in 2010. Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Minister for Social Housing Paula Bennett will be among the guests.
Conference organising committee spokeswoman Victoria Kingi said the Western Bay of Plenty was leading the way in terms of providing innovative housing models for Maori, particularly by making use of Maori land.
"Here in the Western Bay there's 44,000 acres (17,800ha) of Maori land, all well-situated, close to services, commercial centres, areas of employment and public transport, that is really ideal for housing development," she said.
"The conference is the only national opportunity where we are all able to get together and talk about what is happening around the country, what is happening overseas with other indigenous people in housing. And importantly, to look at developing and improving strategies to help Maori have better quality homes."
Tauranga Moana National Maori Housing organising committee chairman Puhirake Ihaka said whanau, hapu and iwi in Tauranga Moana, were excited to be able to host the conference.
"This year's theme is 'Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi' - Collaboration and Strategic Relationships."
National Maori Housing Conference
• When: 12pm, Thursday, September 29 to 4.30pm, Saturday October 1
• Where: ASB Arena, Lion Foundation Room
• Previous conferences: Rotorua (2010), Northland (2012), Whanganui (2014).
The conference will hear presentations on local projects, including the Pirihima marae-based papakainga development, the Ngati Kahu Te Pura Trust's Maori land papakainga development, and the Nga Potiki Manawa Project, a post-Treaty settlement development of 240 homes incorporating a mix of housing options. There will also be a presentation from the Western Bay of Plenty joint agency group on increasing housing for Maori.
There will be input on international indigenous housing strategies, with a number of high-profile speakers and guests from Australia, Hawaii and Canada.
Speakers include Heeni Hoterene and Rueben Porter of the Te Taitokerau Ahikaaroa Trust Project, which has been helping families in Northland develop affordable, efficient and sustainable homes; the Turner whanau from Waikato, who are building a 13-bedroom home to ensure their whanau's future home ownership; and Henare Cherrington of the East Coast Hemp Organisation (ECHO), which is sharing its research around sustainable building materials.
A high-level national document will be prepared to identify strategic solutions for the current and future housing needs of Maori in NZ, as an outcome from the event.
Tourism Bay of Plenty head of marketing Kath Low said the conference was an exciting opportunity for the region to play host to an event of national significance, and saw such events as a sign of positive growth in the city.
"With new residents and businesses comes increased interest in creating opportunities for conferences such as this to be held in the BOP," she said.
"This event tackles a hugely important subject and the outcomes of which are to be highly beneficial for not just Tauranga Moana, but the region and nation as a whole."
Tauranga taking charge
Tauranga is becoming a hot spot for business conferences. In addition to the National Maori Housing Conference, Tauranga recently hosted the 2016 Franchise Association of New Zealand Annual Conference at Trinity Wharf Hotel, which was another first for the city.
More than 120 of New Zealand's leading franchise minds and businesses were in attendance for the two-day event.
And in October, high-profile speakers such as Minister of Transport Simon Bridges, co-founder of US automotive company Tesla Ian Wright, and the New Zealand Transport Association's Jeff Fleury, will arrive in Tauranga for a four-day 2016 Road Transport Forum Annual Conference, which includes a site visit of the Port of Tauranga.