Substandard housing at Ahipara and a papakainga development at Takou Bay were inspected when the Labour Party housing spokesman, Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford, came to the Far North yesterday.
"Some people make the mistake of thinking the housing crisis is only happening in Auckland, but Northland has a long-standing issue with substandard rural housing," he told the Northland Age.
With Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, Mr Twyford spent yesterday morning discussing housing issues with iwi representatives at He Korowai Trust in Kaitaia.
In the afternoon the Labour pair met Paul Hansen and Cliff Colquhoun at the Community Business and Environment Centre (CBEC) in Kaitaia to learn more about the Healthy Homes Tai Tokerau joint venture between CBEC and He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust in Moerewa.
Healthy Homes Tai Tokerau is a not-for-profit charitable enterprise. Since 2008 it has retrofitted insulation into more than 5000 Northland homes, with most of the work done free thanks to a partnership with a range of supportive third party funders.
Mr Hansen took the MPs to a substandard Ahipara house so they could see how bad conditions are for some families. In this case, family members have jobs but still can't afford to fix their home.
Mr Davis said housing problems involved more than putting up more buildings. New Zealanders were "struggling to get by" in a society where houses priced at three times an average annual income 30 years ago now cost about 10 times an average annual income in Auckland.
He and Mr Twyford also visited Advance Build at Awanui to assess the firm's ability to produce affordable housing.
Mr Davis said if Advance Build could construct a four-bedroom house for under $200,000 the next Labour Government could consider using it to build numerous low-cost homes in Northland.
Labour Party policy when elected is to build 100,000 affordable homes around New Zealand over the next 10 years.
Mr Twyford said the new Labour Government would buy building materials in bulk and tender for construction in volume to produce high quality homes efficiently.
"It's not on for people to be living in substandard housing in the 21st century," he said. "Families which lack funds for warm, dry and secure housing develop health problems, with infections putting children in hospital in numbers we associate with third world countries."
Early this morning the two MPs were to travel from Kaitaia to Takou Bay, on the east coast between the Bay of Islands and Whangaroa Harbour, where Te Runanga o Ngati Rehia is the umbrella organisation for a proposal to build 79 papakainga homes. Housing project co-ordinator Nora Rameka told the Northland Age many shareholders who lived in Auckland and other parts of country had decided to return to Takou Bay land in multiple Maori ownership. Forty whanau had applied for licences to occupy to build on the Takou papakainga.
Some funding obtained through Te Puni Kokiri Maori Housing Network was being used to repair houses at Takou Bay and other homes in the Ngati Rehia rohe.
Ms Rameka said Te Runanga o Ngati Rehia had been seeking funds to support whanau to build new homes on their papakainga and working with the TPK Maori Housing Network might create this opportunity. From Takou Bay, the MPs will travel to Whangarei, where their appointments include a meeting with Te Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust officials before Mr Twyford flies home to Auckland.