The Government is making a nearly $2.8 million investment to support a $4.88m new housing development on Māori land in Tauranga. The funding was announced on Saturday in a humble ceremony on a Welcome Bay hillside with a million-dollar view over Rangataua Bay. The Mayor was there, along with the Māori Development Minister, but all credit belonged to the members of the trust who have been working for more than four years to make the bold venture possible. Find out how it came about and what the plans are for the land.
A community of people returned home to live on the land of their ancestors, in view of their marae across the water, and working in businesses that sustain their whānau.
And discouraging avocado thieves while they're at it.
That is the aspiration of the Ranginui 12 Trust for a sloped section high on a hill, surrounded by orchards, in Welcome Bay, Tauranga.
A $4.88m project is set to transform the trust's land into a papakāinga village to be used for social housing.
On Saturday Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the Government would contribute just under $2.8m towards infrastructure for the development.
The trust was committing $2m.
Trust deputy chairman Koraurau Te Kani said most of the trust's land was planted in orchards - kiwifruit, mostly, with some avocado - more than 30 years ago.
The idea for the village started about four years ago in a shareholder meeting.
"It occurred to us... there was huge demand for social and other forms of housing in the Bay of Plenty."
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Trustees decided to try and do something about it, starting with their only open section of land.
It planned nine two-storey detached homes of varying sizes.
If the concept worked, there was potential to expand into less productive orchard space.
"This is a new beginning for us as a trust," Te Kani said.
The trust aimed to start earthworks this month - consent dependent - and open the village by June next year.
It was taking registrations of interest from its owners, who must also be eligible for social housing. Residents would be selected by ballot.
Trustee Victoria Werohia said the trust, of Ngāi Te Rangi hapu Ngāti He, had several hundred owners who were also shareholders.
The horticulture business had been successful, in spite of a spate of avocado thefts they hoped the neighbouring papakāinga would discourage.
Five locals were employed in the orchards and the trust carried no debt on its balance sheet.
But it still had a responsibility to its shareholders, and needed funding for its papakāinga venture, Werohia said.
"We needed to make the numbers work."
The Te Puni Kokiri grant was the key.
"Without it, we would not have been able to do the development."
Mahuta said it was the Government's privilege to help get it under way with infrastructure funding.
Around New Zealand, Māori land was generally not well connected to infrastructure, which limited development potential, she said. That was something she wanted to work to change.
"Councils need to see the long-term value of Māori land development."
She also wanted to see council planning and zoning rules for papakāinga standardised.
Fast-growing Tauranga was ranked the eighth-most unaffordable city in the world for housing against income.
"This papakāinga will provide further opportunities for whānau to re-connect with their whenua [land] but more importantly to live in a kaupapa Māori community," Mahuta said.
In every papakāinga she had opened as a minister, she had seen the strength, skills and knowledge of the whānau grow through the development process.
Papakāinga could help reduce pressure on other parts of the housing continuum, she said.
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said the "much-needed project" would benefit the whole community.
He credited the trust for "taking the bull by the horns" and seeking to provide housing for its people.