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James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Closing the gap: Iwi keen to buy up state houses

Enid Ratahi-Pryor says the iwi is still negotiating to provide housing.
Enid Ratahi-Pryor says the iwi is still negotiating to provide housing.

A Bay of Plenty iwi is in talks with the Government to buy state houses in its area that it says would be used to house Maori and Pakeha.

Te Runanga o Ngati Awa in Whakatane was among the first iwi to put its hand up publicly to buy state houses, which the Government wants to sell to iwi and other community groups so they can "leverage" the assets to build more social housing.

Chief executive Enid Ratahi-Pryor said a previous offer to buy 400 state houses in Whakatane — which was understood to be at a quarter of their book value — was unsuccessful, but the iwi is still negotiating to provide housing.

"The value expected from Housing NZ was far higher than what we put forward," she said.

"That's because our proposal was based on cashflow values at the time and the portfolio was based on market value.

"The Government has expressed a willingness for sales of that nature and Ngati Awa, like other iwi and other organisations, are looking to have discussions with Housing NZ around either sale of housing portfolios or alternatively Ngati Awa would look at leasing options. The point is we haven't gone away from our original intention to enter social housing."

Ms Ratahi-Pryor said it was the iwi's dream to be a part of the housing solution for Maori in particular, but also Pakeha, and she was confident of a positive outcome.

"It's not only about the houses, it's about the ability to provide tenancy management."

Statistics NZ figures show that since 2001, all ethnicities have seen a drop in home ownership but Maori and Pacific people are the worst affected.

- NZ Herald

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