Ngati Whatua state house tenant Apihai Pihema supports returning state housing to iwi in principle - but he worries that the rents could go so high that he might have to leave.
Mr Pihema, 51, grew up in a tribally owned house just down the hill from the Orakei home he now shares with his partner Lisett.
For 12 years, he was part of a group that "squatted" in houses in Kupe St that were returned to the tribe in 1996, objecting to the tribal trust board's plan to demolish them for an up-market redevelopment.
He finally gave up the fight and accepted a state house two and a half years ago for health reasons. A former builder, he now receives a sickness benefit.
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The Kupe St houses have been demolished and the trust board recently held a ballot of tribal members for the first 30 new homes now under construction for owner-occupation. Mr Pihema is angry because three bids from his family missed out.
Trust deputy chairman Ngarimu Blair says 68 other houses, which were bought by the trust in 1996 but have been managed since then by Housing NZ, will revert to direct Ngati Whatua management this June.
He says the trust is interested in buying any other state houses that come up for sale on the Auckland isthmus.
Mr Pihema says that "philosophically" Ngati Whatua management should be better than Housing NZ. But he says the tribe charges market rents, although in practice the rents are reduced to a quarter of tenants' incomes if they qualify for social housing.
"I don't mind Housing NZ giving the houses back to our people, but I don't want our people, especially those on the lower socio-economic level, having to move out of our area because we can't afford a house in here any more," he said.
Mr Blair said the tribe had not raised rents in the houses it managed since 2012 and its rents were "generally lower than all Auckland suburbs except Otara".