David is the business writer for the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post.

Tauranga conference hears of ways to scale up Maori housing

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The proposed subdivision of its 27ha Te Houhou Treaty Settlement block in Papamoa is an example of ways Maori can scale up their housing options by utilising their own land, says Nga Potiki a Tamapahore Trust's Victoria Kingi.

But she acknowledged that the development had raised some issues for Nga Potiki, as it would involve selling part of the land regained under the settlement process.

Ms Kingi was addressing the opening session of the National Maori Land Conference in Tauranga on Thursday, which looked at ways to expand housing development on Maori land.

The conference got under way by describing the Pirihima marae-based papakainga development, and the Ngati Kahu Te Pura Trust's Maori land papakainga development. These operated on a smaller scale - from six to 20 or so houses.

"Then where do we go from here?" asked Ms Kingi, a co-organiser of the conference. "We want to get scale happening. We want the numbers because our need is urgent."

Nga Potiki proposes developing its Te Houhou block into Manawa, a residential subdivision. The first phase, expected to get under way next year, envisaged 240 lots incorporating a diverse range of housing types, including affordable options for hapu members.

Nga Potiki signed its Treaty settlement in 2013, but Ms Kingi said the cash settlement was "modest". The key, she said was the negotiation of the return of the Te Houhou block, which was in the centre of fast-developing area.

Recovering the land and reconnecting with it had become a fundamental driving force for the hapu. However, Ms Kingi addressed a critical issue raised by its proposed development - that a proportion of the lots will be available to non-Maori buyers.

"It is a very important piece of land to us culturally and we fought hard to get it back," she said. "The irony is we are developing it and selling some back."

Ms Kingi said the trustees had tackled the issue.

"We rationalise it like this," she said. "We [Nga Potiki] will retain over 60 per cent of the land. The profit that we gain from the sites we do sell, we commit to reinvesting into more land development."

Thirty per cent of the development would be retained for affordable housing for Nga Potiki. House and land packages are expected to target Nga Potiki's people, first-home buyers, and low to modest-income families struggling to get on to the property ladder. There are also plans for homes for elderly people in the subdivision, as well as a retail development.

Conference chairman Puhirake Ihaka said previous events had built a momentum on Maori housing that had to be continued.

"In particular for our rohe in Tauranga, and for Maori in general, home ownership is declining, it's not increasing," he said in his introductory comments.

"We have to look at initiatives that give us a basic foundation to move forward into owning our own homes by utilising our own whenua."

National Maori Housing Conference
• Continues: 8.30am, Friday, September 30 to 4.30pm, Saturday October 1
• Where: ASB Arena, Lion Foundation Room

- Bay of Plenty Times

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