Maori home ownership in Whangarei has plunged 25 per cent in the past 27 years and is now among the lowest rates in the country.
Statistics New Zealand figure show that less than 40 per cent of Maori in Whangarei live in an owned home, the rest rent from landlords or housing providers.
The number of Maori living in rented homes has more than doubled since 1986, growing from 4752 to 10,341 in 2013.
Our elders are terrified for our generation that we will get sucked into the same scam that they were.
The number living in owned homes grew 26 per cent over the same time period, from 5403 to 6831.
In comparison, 72 per cent of Europeans lived in an owned home, down from 77.7 per cent in 1986. Pacific people living in a resident-owned home dropped further than both Maori and European rates, falling more than a third to 36.6 per cent.
Owned homes included those with a mortgage.
Maori housing provider Ahikaaroa Trust chairman Reuben Taipari said ownership of quality, safe homes was essential to help many Maori out of financial and social poverty.
"Without a stable environment, I fail to see how our children can progress and achieve their potential. Without healthy social stability, culture, knowledge and education, then crime and poverty will soar and the death of our people and culture will be the end result," Mr Taipari said.
He said many Northland houses built in the '80s and '90s were low quality and have had generational effects for Maori who invested in them.
"Maori took out mortgages on crap homes that fell apart within 10 years but still had to pay a 30-year mortgage. This has left the next generation with a major debt but no assets with which to use as collateral to upgrade.
"We had no choice with no assets but to turn to rentals," Mr Taipari said.
"Our elders are terrified for our generation that we will get sucked into the same scam that they were."
He said development on Maori land was "extremely difficult", and Ahikaaroa Trust had worked for nearly 10 years with the council to allow easier access for Maori to develop on unused land.
The Maori Housing Network said it had an annual budget of about $15 million, rising to $17.5 million next year.
The network is helping build 36 more affordable homes for whanau around the country in the next two years. It would also fund infrastructure costs, such as connecting houses to utilities, for 113 whanau homes on Maori land, and repairs to 223 homes.
Nationwide, 42.3 per cent of Maori lived in resident-owned home while 33.1 per cent of Pacific people were in an owned home.