The Ministry of Māori Development Te Puni Kōkiri says it is receiving between four and five inquiries a day about housing, papakāinga and support for housing maintenance and repairs.
Regional director for Te Tai Hauāuru, Jessica Smith, said housing was one of the issues most often raised by whānau in the region and across Aotearoa. Te Tai Hauāuru covers the western North Island from South Waikato and Taranaki to Porirua.
Housing and papakāinga concerns were also being raised frequently at whenua Māori clinics being held across the region by Te Puni Kōkiri and Te Kooti Whenua Māori, the Māori Land Court, in the lead-up to the Whenua Māori Summit in Whanganui this month.
Te Puni Kōkiri describes papakāinga as a group of three or more houses on whenua Māori, functioning as "an intentional community" in accordance with tikanga Māori.
Smith said the whenua Māori clinics had been important in identifying some of the key issues for whānau around whenua Māori. Four of nine walk-in clinics have been held to date, with the next happening in Marton and Ohakune.
"It's no surprise that housing and papakāinga have been one of the topical points at each of the clinics we've held so far. Same thing with setting up governance structure for the whenua. Across the Whanganui area alone we have a lot of ungoverned blocks, many of them up to one hectare in size," Smith said.
"There's quite a lot of opportunity to bring whānau together to determine whether, although it might be a small block, might it be a good block for papakāinga or housing, or something like that?"
Smith said succession to Māori land had also been a hot topic at the clinics. All of these subjects will be addressed by Crown agencies and others at the Whenua Māori Summit on August 18.
"Whenua Māori is a really important kaupapa and take for our whānau, and we're happy to provide support," Smith said.
"Te Puni Kōkiri is mobilising a big team to provide that critical support in respect to whenua Māori, including papakāinga and housing. It's really important to ensure that our whānau are healthy, warm have a roof over their head, and are able to connect back to their whenua."
The Whenua Māori Summit is being organised by the Māori Regional Business Network Te Manu Atatū with support from key partners Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Kooti Whenua Māori, Te Tumu Paeroa, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Whanganui District Council's economic development agency Whanganui and Partners.
Te Manu Atatū board member Hayden Potaka said Māori landowners were expected to attend from all around the rohe, and places at the one-day summit were filling up fast. The summit is free to attend but registrations on the Te Manu Atatū website are essential.