Ancient ways of living for modern Flaxmere whanau

By D'Angelo Martin

A papakāinga development in Flaxmere in Hawke's Bay will provide affordable housing for whānau but also an opportunity to live on and farm the land. Zack Makoare, who has been instrumental in the Ngati Kahungunu initiative, says that it will be more than just a papa kāinga, but a health and well-being centre as well.

The vision for this papakāinga started 30 years ago and what was once just a dream has now turned into a reality. "Over the past five years, we've actually started cementing things and our focus was whānau coming together in a collaborative manner, which was quite hard to do at first. There are quite a few owners on this block but we have all come to a mutual agreement and all have thought about the bigger picture," Makoare says.

The ingoa of the papakainga is called Puke Aute. The papakāinga is close to Te Aute College in Te Auke.

Makoare says there was a long and tedious process to get things up and running. "We had to go through the Māori Land Court and it was a collective initiative with Te Ahu Whenua Land Trust."

Working as one

The project was partly funded by Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK) and in the early stages of this particular papakāinga project it was the Māori Party who supported it back then but now it is being supported by Labour. "We're tracking along pretty well as our road will be finished early next week, the power has gone in and the water has gone down." 

There are 2.8 hectares of land made available for houses to be built on the papakāinga. The first priority will be for whānau who whakapapa to this particular land and the first three homes will be social housing homes for whānau who can't get a loan, and then the other three will be called kāinga whenua.

The biggest goal for Zack for the papakāinga is to return to how ancestors lived in their time: working as one, eating as one and learning as one. "We want to focus on having good habits for our whānau, so the firewood, the tree planting and I think it's something that's needed when we talk about Corrections and the justice system so this is the early prevention stuff. Things have to change in the home, my whānau, we're not perfect but at the end of the day we're trying our best."

Makoare says that Te Puke Aute will be more than just a village for Māori. It will also provide other ways to help people."This is what we are going to do, there's not going to be any methamphetamine, but we are prepared to help you in our whare oranga. The transformation can happen among the generations of people, so you'll have your pakeke, your kaumātua, your rangatahi, your moko and we learn from each other. There are good examples if you live in a pā situation."

The development of Puke Aute papakāinga will be finished in 18 months.