Co-housing village a dream come true for Māori whānau

By Te Ao - Māori News

Labelled as the world's first indigenous co-housing community, Waingākau Village in Flaxmere Hawke's Bay has completed its first three homes, with more than 100 planned in the next few years.

The Te Kira family have a new start in 2020.

"It's a good opportunity, but not only for myself but for other people out there who may not be able to see that it can actually happen to them as well," Payton Te Kira of Ngāti Kahungunu says.

The family are moving into a new home in the Waingākau development.

Project manager Emma Horgan says, "It brings back a lot of the communal living that happened in the original villages and the focus on whānautanga rather than living in individual houses with large fences."

The village will have 127 homes ranging from two to six bedrooms, starting at $220,000.

"We have pathways that enable whānau with a household income of about 50,000 to get into a three or four-bedroom home," Horgan says.

The project is lead by Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, a community organisation which works alongside whānau to maintain wellbeing. They officially opened the new homes just before Christmas.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta says, "They have focused on those who can't get into their own homes and we as the government support that through the development of social housing."

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says the development is perfect for the community.
 
"Totally a utopia, so we're taking some very, very barren land and turning it into a place that is alive, that is green, that is full with children playing, and the new school of Kimi Ora around the marae, a shopping centre and a health centre," she says.

To keep the development from getting run down, a residents association will be formed.

Horgan says, "If there are things that are happening in the community, that you bring it back to that association which you're part of and have a voice in discussing it and work through it. Also, with gang challenges, the community can self-police in that respect."

For the Te Kira family, it is a dream come true.

Report by Aroha Treacher for Te Ao.