Anger over homes for Maori

By Genevieve Helliwell of the Bay of Plenty Times -
Bob Clarkson on his new land that he wants to build 1000 homes on near Tauriko. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times
Bob Clarkson on his new land that he wants to build 1000 homes on near Tauriko. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times

The use of $2.6 million in taxpayer money to help fund a Maori community housing scheme has been slammed by Tauranga property developer.

Former National MP Bob Clarkson has lashed out at the funding announcement for the Mangatawa Papamoa Blocks Incorporated Papakainga Housing Project, off Truman Lane.

"It's bloody lovely. I've got nothing against Maori but, when you can't build houses for the general population, it's ridiculous," he said.

The money will be used to build 12 large family homes and the infrastructure for eight more. It has come from Putea Maori, a $13 million capital grant fund available to Maori for the purpose of increasing affordable rental housing. Putea Maori is part of the Social Housing Unit, which has set aside $104 million during three years (2012-15) to help people get good quality homes through community housing.

Housing project trustee Victoria Kingi said Maori tended to be worse off and in desperate need of affordable homes.

But Mr Clarkson said it was not fair for one section of the community to be eligible for funds when many in the wider population also suffered.

The city council last year "shot down" his plan to provide 1000 affordable homes for $280,000 each. Everyone should be able to access affordable housing, no matter what colour their skin was, he said.

The community housing project at Mangatawa Marae was officially formalised in July 2010, with stage one of the project, 16 small homes for kuia and kaumatua (elderly), completed last year.

The project's next stage involves 12 three-to-five-bedroom family homes built and infrastructure for eight more.

The 12 houses will have affordable rents, calculated by the tenants' income and the last eight will be kaianga whenua, or personally owned.

When the project is finished there will be 36 houses in the Papakainga housing project.

In response to Mr Clarkson's criticisms, Mrs Kingi said Maori were allocated only a "measly" amount of the funding available.

Houses on average cost 5.9 times more than the average salary.

"The average salary is $60,000 while the average Maori salary in Tauranga is $30,000, so Maori essentially have to pay 11 times more [than their salary to own their own home]," Mrs Kingi said.

There were many people who could not afford housing but Maori seemed to be worse off, she said.

"When we heard [the funding grant was successful], we were absolutely ecstatic," Mrs Kingi told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"Maori are experiencing a higher degree of housing stress ... and our studies have shown Maori [in the Bay of Plenty] spend 36-54 per cent of their take-home pay just to cover household costs and this is a huge concern."

Mrs Kingi said a lower rent would mean tenants with more disposable income and extra money for things such as healthcare and groceries.

"By building 20 affordable family homes, if there were five people to a home, 100 people have an affordable place to live," Mrs Kingi said.

The trust will now look into designers, architects and concept plans before it can apply for building consent.

When this is granted, construction can begin.

The homes are expected to be completed from between 24 and 36 months.

The trust is calling for expressions of interest and applicants must fit the criteria, including having a positive relationship with the Mangatawa Marae.

Mangatawa was established in the 1950s and created to cover a collection of lands, originally belonging to Nga Potiki.

* The Social Housing Fund, administered by the Social Housing Unit is available to all community housing providers.

The Social Housing Fund through providers is targeted to assist social rental right through to affordable home ownership. The criteria for the Putea Maori and the requirements of the providers to the other parts of the fund have variations to meet the specific requirements of the communities involved.

The total Social Housing Fund to be allocated over the three years (starting July 1, 2012) is $104.1 million.

The Social Housing Fund and the proposed allocation of the funding and who may apply can be found on the Social Housing Unit's website.

- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

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