Iwi seek resolution to Auckland's growing housing issue

Ngāti Whātua (Ōrākei) and Waikato-Tainui say they completely back the Government’s goal to ensure more safe, warm, attractive and affordable homes are built in the Auckland region as soon as possible.

In a recent press release, both iwi confirm they will actively support the Crown in its important goal to ensure that Kiwi families can access decent, affordable housing.

They also look forward to exploring the opportunities that Housing Minister Nick Smith has spoken of on Sunday. 

The iwi also believe it would be valuable to seek clarification from the Auckland High Court with respect to the right of first refusal to surplus Crown land in the Auckland region under Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Waikato-Tainui's full and final Treaty Settlement Acts.

They have also invited the Crown to join with them in making a joint application to the court.

Waikato-Tainui’s Tukoroirangi Morgan and Ngāti Whātua’s Ngarimu Blair explain, “Our people have lived in this region for hundreds of years and we are proud of our role over the last 175 years in the development of New Zealand’s largest and only international city.” 

“In recent times, for example, Ngāti Whātua and Waikato-Tainui have played a major part in the development of Auckland from Quay Park to the Airport.

“Our major Treaty settlement Acts – in 1995 for Waikato-Tainui and 2014 for Ngāti Whātua – provide us with a right of first refusal when the government plans to privatise land, and these rights will endure well into the 22nd century.

Since those major Treaty settlements, we are fully focussed on the future and tremendously excited about Auckland and New Zealand’s prospects for economic growth and social development.

Clearly, achieving Auckland’s potential requires more and better housing and we applaud the Prime Minister’s moves in this year’s budget to achieve that. Indeed, we want to help see the government’s goals come to fruition for the benefit of our own people and all Aucklanders.

As that policy is being developed, an issue has arisen that some officials appear to believe our settlements do not guarantee us a right of first refusal when land is to be used for private housing developments.

We are confident our reading of the settlement Acts is correct and it is important that this disagreement should not be allowed to jeopardise the speedy roll out of the new housing strategy. 

Both we and the Crown have learned from our differences of opinion over the interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi in the 19th and 20th centuries that it is much better to resolve differences of opinion early as we look forward through the 21st and 22nd centuries. We therefore very much hope the Crown will agree to join us in seeking a declaration from the courts on what is a simple matter of statutory interpretation. 

Both we and the Crown agree that just and durable settlements allow Māori and all New Zealanders to focus together on economic growth and social development. A co-operative and constructive approach to the courts is a far better path forward than the more adversarial approach that has sometimes characterised the relationship between iwi and the Crown in the past.

Our lawyers, Russell McVeagh, are seeking a meeting with the Solicitor-General tomorrow to discuss a joint approach and we hope that the Prime Minister and Attorney-General will agree this would be the best path forward.”