Maori home ownership in Whanganui has fallen 22 per cent in the past 27 years - and is now 35 per cent below the average rate across the district.
According to figures released by Statistics New Zealand, 42.3 per cent of Maori in Whanganui lived in resident-owned homes - the rest lived in properties owned by a landlord or housing provider.
Since 1986, only 250 more Maori had moved into resident-owned homes in the district, while 2000 more live in rented or housing provider homes.
Owned homes included those with a mortgage.
Whanganui kaumatua John Maihi was not surprised Maori home ownership had decreased significantly and said it was largely due to low employment levels.
"Even if they are employed, the housing requirements have increased beyond what they can pay anyway.
"Maori have difficulty even getting a rental. We have accused some of the landlords that we believe actually put higher conditions than normal when Maori apply," Mr Maihi said.
He said funding and loans for Maori also were not as easily available as they had been in the past. Mr Maihi said helping Maori families into a home they owned was important, and more government support was needed. He said the benefits would be far-reaching.
"I think owning a safe home is really, really important. I'm sure the confidence of the families and children who grow up in those homes would be much more than what they have to go through at the moment," he said.
"It will benefit their lives, it will benefit their children and, in the long term, it will be a benefit to the whole of the community."
He said greater foresight and long-term strategies were needed to increase Maori home ownership because the policies were unduly affected by short-term politics.
"If you look back, say, 15-20 years, we're probably in a better position now than we were then as a result of our efforts and the Government's.
"But they'll have an election and the whole thing will change again," Mr Maihi said.
In comparison, Europeans living in owned homes in Whanganui dropped from 80 per cent to 71, while the rate for Pacific people fell from 57.4 per cent to 45 per cent.
The Maori Housing Network, part of the Ministry of Maori Development Te Puni Kokiri, said it had an annual budget of about $15 million, rising to $17.5 million next year.
The network was helping to 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 homes, while less than a third - 33.1 per cent - of Pacific people were in an owned home.
More than 70 per cent of Europeans and 58 per cent of Asians were in resident-owned homes.
The figures in the report were taken from the 2013 Census.