A_070720WCBRCJac03.JPG Minister of Māori Development Willie Jackson said the place-based approach is intended to ensure housing issues in 'hotspot regions' are addressed more effectively.
Four houses built at Waiohiki in the first stage of a multi-million dollar Government-backed initiative to address Hastings' housing crisis will be occupied by next week.
The completion of the papakainga, almost across the road from Waiohiki Marae, was celebrated on the site on Saturday.
It is the first project completed under the Hastings place-based initiative announced last year, with $7.8 million of homelessness funding over two years by way of grants.
The money will part-fund more affordable housing in the Hastings District, which includes Waiohiki.
The latter is often regarded as part of Napier but is on the Hastings side of the boundary at Taradale.
The papakainga development is on an area the size of about four rugby fields, on property owned by Tamati and Pauline Cairns.
The homes are now vested in perpetuity in Te Hiiri Whānau Trust, the papakainga developed in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry of Māori Development) and the Hastings District Council, with the rental managed by Waiohiki Community Trust.
Community Trust chairman Denis O'Reilly told the audience on Saturday the papakainga guaranteed secure three-bedroomed housing for families able to return to the area, often after years of struggle getting into permanent housing.
"The notion that everyone should get on to the property ladder is nonsense," he said.
"Here we have homes for people who can stay as long as they want to or need to."
Development of the site had started with the relocation of a home to the road frontage in April last year, now used for transitional housing.
Tamati Cairns told the celebration the land had been vacant, growing "the world's best weeds", and he had become involved in the development after O'Reilly asked why he hadn't built on it.
Cairns replied he didn't have the resources, and took up the suggestion that a trust be established, enabling the building development, part of papakainga projects which have seen about 20 homes built at Waiohiki in the last six years.
Te Puni Kōkiri network senior adviser Robert Macbeth said the project had been made more affordable because there were no land costs.
Te Puni Kōkiri funded the project from its allocation for the initiative, with $1,680,090 contributed to the home and infrastructure costs, and Te Hiiri Whānau Trust contributing approximately $700,000 as borrowing.
New Minister of Māori Development Willie Jackson spoke to the crowd at the celebration via an audio-visual link from Rotorua, where he had attended the Ahuwhenua Trophy Awards for Māori Excellence in horticulture.
Jackson said the place-based approach is intended to ensure housing issues in "hotspot regions" are addressed more effectively.
"I commend the trust's foresight in building warm, dry, affordable homes on its whenua," he said.
"These quality, insulated, three-bedroom homes will undoubtedly improve the health and wellbeing of the whānau moving in, most of whom are coming from sub-standard housing.
"The return of whānau to rural ancestral land not only builds and sustains communities but connects whānau to their history, marae, awa and maunga," he said.
"It is more likely the environment will be maintained and enhanced when there is connection."
Project manager and Te Hiiri Whānau trustee, Laurie O'Reilly, said the building was "just the start".
"The enhancement of peoples' wairua, tinana, mauri is the next stage. It's the aspirational, ambitious stuff that will ensure future generations carry on the values of kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga."
Among those at the celebration were Ngai Tuhoe representatives from Ruatahuna, signifying the hapu links from kuia Te Hiiri, who was raised in their area but from Ngati Paarau of Waiohiki.