He Korowai Trust challenges the Crown's housing policy

By Tumamao Harawira

This week saw the hearing of the Wai 2750 claim at Te Puea Marae in South Auckland. The Housing Policy and Services Inquiry has been listening to outstanding claims with grievances concerning housing policy and services.

Ricky Houghton of He Korowai Trust from Kaitaia is one of the claimants. 

He Korowai Aroha Trust was started by Houghton in an attempt to provide social housing in the Far North region. In 2016 its dream was finally realised with the opening of nine homes within its social housing project – Kohuhu papakāinga, a 35-bed emergency accommodation unit, medical centre, community café and social services.

Many of the claims before the tribunal this week allege that the Crown fails to ensure an adequate standard of housing for Māori, both rural and urban, or to deliver state services, programmes and support enabling Māori access to adequate housing. Houghton says, "We are not even gonna feature, we are not even on the landscape. That's what this claim is all about. We have been sidelined, it's unfair and it needs to be put right." 

'Not coming north'

One of the main announcements from Labour's $3.5 billion housing strategy this week is aimed at first home buyers. From April 1, the income cap to access first home grants and loans will be lifted.

But Houghton is clear about where he thinks the money will be going. "In a nutshell, it's not coming north, and that is because of the income threshold. So when you look at the minimum income threshold, unless you have got between $80,000 and $120,000 a year income as a couple, you ain't gonna qualify."

Houghton also believes this week's housing announcements by Labour fail to deal with the issues that have been spoken about at this week's tribunal. "I think that it's out of context with what's going on here, and it's out of sequence. I think that what they should have announced was the Māori housing, what they plan to announce in the Budget. That would have been more appropriate to announce this week, given the tribunal hearings are on this week."