Māori housing experts gather under one roof

By Tema Hemi

One of the country's top Māori researchers says there is no cohesive communication between government and Māori around sustainable and affordable housing, particularly in urban areas.

It comes as over three hundred researchers have gathered at Wellington's Te Papa Museum to share innovative ideas of how to best tackle housing issues for Māori. 

Lawyer and Māori researcher Moana Jackson says, "Māori have the right to have shelter in our own home and this land is our home so ultimately, like in so many things, I think constitutionally, Māori need to be given the authority back to work out how that can best happen."

Homeless advocate Hurimoana Dennis has seen first-hand the lack of support for Māori.  He believes this has contributed to whānau living on the streets.

"I think that is time for our marae and for our iwi leaders alongside iwi and hapū to take a lead role, to unite our thoughts through utilising a Māori lens and a Māori strategy," he says.

Research conducted by Dr Ella Henry has found that the issue has had a damaging impact on urban regeneration.

"I think its absolutely critical to provide affordable homes but the reality is, the affordable home price of $850-$650,000  is still way out of the capacity of most of our whānau," says Henry.

Jackson says that proper communication is key.

"There needs to be greater co-ordination, I think, between the government sector and the NGOs that are providing housing.  But in the end I think the issue is who makes the decisions for Māori about Māori housing.  I just think that we sometimes get too hung up on a housing policy rather than a policy that makes people feel at home."

Over the next three days national and international researchers will continue to share their ideas to make such aspirations a reality.