Millions announced for housing and marae upkeep in pre-Budget package

By Anneke Smith -
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Minister for Maori Development and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell announced a $27 million housing and marae package at Waipatu Marae in Hastings. Photo/Warren Buckland
Minister for Maori Development and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell announced a $27 million housing and marae package at Waipatu Marae in Hastings. Photo/Warren Buckland

In a special visit to Waipatu Marae in Hastings this morning Minister for Maori Development and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell announced a $27 million package to sustain marae and promote Maori home ownership throughout New Zealand.

The pre budget announcement was a response to the "call" from Maori people to stay in the housing sector and ensure marae don't deteriorate to ruin, Mr Flavell said.

"I've been to some real squalor and I've heard stories of people living in real deprivation. The ability of us to give them a hand on small things, not to rebuild their house but to make it liveable and warm and comfortable, has been hugely important for some Maori communities."

The minister said Maori home ownership sat at just 28 per cent, compared to 50 per cent for non-Maori. This morning's announcement unveiled that $8m would be put towards Kainga Ora; giving families access to affordable homes, including housing developments.

"We just want to do some work and experiment with it and see if we can move people into a better space in home ownership."

Mr Flavell said having a warm, safe and comfortable space to live "absolutely" sets people up for success, in particular children who are kept healthy and able to attend school.

"My experience is that when you have a cold house [it] generally leads to other things that go on around health aspects, and when you get into health aspects you can't go to work, and when you can't go to work you can't get any money. It's a sort of negative cycle that starts to get created," he said.

Funding will also continue for the Maori Housing Network Extension in the 2017 budget, which has so far fuelled 140 Maori housing projects since it was launched in October 2015.

Accompanying the funding for housing the pre Budget announcement also included a funding package of $10m for Marae Ora to assist the upkeep of marae throughout the next four years.

Mr Flavell anticipated the funding would revitalise and reinvigorate Maori culture in communities.

"At the heart of it marae are the cultural centre of who we are as a people so we have to ensure they are maintained and looked after, that's the first point.

"The second point is what we've found in times of disaster and emergency is the marae are going to be hugely important, even more important into the future for being in the centre, almost the civil defence hub. Why? Because how marae operate is exactly how Civil Defence should operate in times of crisis."

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