Henare warns against housing land grab

By Ripeka Timutimu

Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare says Māori land is at risk of being stolen again after Housing Minister Nick Smith revealed that he would use the Public Works Act to free up land for housing.  This comes after Prime Minister John Key's announcement of a $1 billion housing fund to address homelessness.

The future of the Māori language is looking bright.  However, Māori MP Peeni Henare says the same can't be said for Māori land.

“This law is being used as a tool to steal our land,” says Henare, “Once again, Māori will suffer if the Minister gets what he wants.”

Te Kāea understands that Housing Minister Nick Smith is looking at a recommendation by the Productivity Commission to use the Public Works Act to unlock land for housing.

“Go and use your own land, land in the hands of Pākehā,” says Māori Party MP Marama Fox, “Māori have very little land, so leave it in Māori hands.”

Fox says the homelessness problem is widespread, even making its way to her own doorstep.

“I have a family staying with me at the moment.  They can't find housing in Wellington.  This isn't an issue that is Auckland specific.”

Last year, Smith was left red-faced over the government's decision to sell Crown land without consulting Ngāti Whātua.  The tribe had right of refusal included in their treaty settlement.

“Māori are just starting to get their land back,” says Henare, “Now the government wants to take it again to build houses in places like Auckland and Tauranga. The cities are in crisis.”

Te Kāea contacted Minister Nick Smith for comment but he did not respond.

However, Fox says both Key and Smith need to front up to those suffering homelessness if they are to understand just how real the issue is.