A Hawke's Bay-based iwi building company is offering overseas tradies $20,000 to return home to help with the region's housing crisis.
K3 Kahungunu Property, which has been tasked with part of Ngāti Kahungunu's response to the region's acute housing shortage, estimates an additional 1200 homes are needed across Hawke's Bay.
It's offering $20,000 for qualified tradespeople working overseas in Australia to return home and build "hundreds of homes for whānau over the coming years".
"The construction industry needs skilled tradespeople – and we want to make it easier for you to return home," its post on social media reads.
The money provided would assist with costs such as flights, quarantine requirements, accommodation, tools, transport, set up, furniture costs or shipping.
K3 Kahungunu Property was established by the Kahungunu Asset Holding Company (KAHC) to increase the income and standard of living for Māori.
Its chief executive, Aayden Clarke, said he wanted to be more proactive and "solutions focussed" about the country's labour shortage.
"Everybody knows we don't have enough skilled labour."
He explained funding would come from commercial profits, the payoff being that it would help build capacity, though Clarke also had hopes of possible government funding.
There had been a lot of interest in the scheme, with 15 applicants by 11am today, a little over 24 hours after it was launched.
It was open to all qualified tradespeople, but there was a preference for Māori and those who whakapapa to the rohe (region) with a desire to see "Māori building homes for Māori".
"All attempts to build homes in this country have been about us but not by us."
Successful applicants would be placed with Māori businesses related to K3's housing projects, which creates further opportunities for their 27 apprentices.
Last October, K3 received $2 million from the Māori Trades and Training fund to create Māori trade apprenticeships in the region.
Clarke said there were three main reasons he thought people would look at moving back - wanting to be closer to whānau (family), the "beautiful lifestyle" offered, and overseas Covid-19 flare-ups and ensuing restrictions.
Asked why local tradies weren't being offered similar incentives to stay, he said K3 was working with local Māori businesses, including roofers, builders, concrete mixers, by to provide operational support training.
"We support locals by providing them with work.
"There's so much work at the moment - most of them are drowning in it.
"That's the incentive to stay here."
He said the region was facing a "mountain of work" with plans to build 900 homes in various stages over the next few years.
Of other construction constraints, with reports of shipping delays already contributing to a lack of materials and delaying 40 Kāinga Ora homes in Hastings, Clarke said, "it is what it is".
"At a lot of our sites we've got delays around trusses and weatherboards."
His focus was on changing the things he could and "bringing people home".
Iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said it was about Kahungunu repatriating its people.
"We have skilled Māori in Australia with over 30 years' experience and they want to come home to be part of this kaupapa.
"They will be able to come home and pass those skills onto our people while we embark on building hundreds of affordable homes".