After 100 years away from home, a Hawke's Bay family were able to reconnect with their roots with the opening of a new papakainga in Waimarama yesterday.
Crowds gathered yesterday afternoon for the opening of the development which will provide housing options for local whanau.
Five homes have been built at the site - three are three-bedroom affordable rental homes and two are for ownership as part of the first stage of the papakainga development.
Maori Development Minister, Te Ururoa Flavell, said he was proud to open a new papakainga that would provide affordable housing options for whanau of Waimarama.
He was "full of praise" for the proprietors of Waimarama 3A1C2.
"Through the leadership, commitment and determination of the whanau and Incorporation, they have increased the availability of affordable and quality housing for whanau in the area," he said.
"They can be proud of what they have achieved today."
Waimarama resident and Hastings District Councillor Bayden Barber said it was a wonderful opportunity for the Renata family - who will be occupying some of the properties - to get back to their turangawaewae.
"That family has been away from the area since the 1800's when their tipuna [ancestors] moved to Eketahuna," he said. "After 100 years the family have the opportunity to come home".
Te Puni Kokiri representative Robert MacBeth said while the whare themselves were important, the message behind the papakainga was much deeper.
"Papakainga is more than just the houses, its also about whenua and whanau returning to the land," he said.
"Housing is a significant part of it but building up whanau ora and revitalising Maori land alongside other productive stuff is an important part of rebuilding the Maori community."
Having the papakainga located opposite the Waimarama Marae added to this, and allowed people to feel as though they were returning to their land.
Yesterday's opening adds to the many papakainga in Hawke's Bay - two have been completed, and there are three under construction, Mr MacBeth said.
The adviser for Maori housing development said the different ownership models of the papakainga meant they were able to support different whanau.
He congratulated the Waimarama whanau, and community who had driven the project.
The proprietors of Waimarama 3A1C2 had received joint funding for project feasibility and infrastructure support through the Maori Housing Network led by Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to build the homes.
In addition, the two whanau with home-ownership properties successfully obtained Kainga Whenua loans through Kiwibank with support from Housing New Zealand.
Mr Flavell acknowledged the support of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Housing New Zealand and the Hastings District Council to the Waimarama 3A1C2 Incorporation.
"With the first stage of the papakainga now complete, I want to commend all those involved for their dedication to this project to date," he said. "What they've achieved is a tangible symbol of success of working together to build homes for whanau."
"I am proud to able to support this papakainga project as part of the Maori Housing Network. Like the Waimarama papakainga, we are focused on better support for whanau and Maori organisations to meet their housing aspirations."
Mr Barber said while it had been momentous to open the pakakainga yesterday, it had also been a chance to "put down a challenge" to Hawke's Bay's politicians to focus on housing.
"There is still a great need for [housing]...families in Waimarama are still living in shacks," he said.