Māori Party candidate slams Labour for failed housing promise

By Jessica Tyson

The Māori Party’s Hauraki-Waikato candidate Donna Pōkere-Phillips has hit out at what she calls the Labour Party’s "failed promise" to provide better support for housing in the electorate.

In a heated debate with Labour Party cabinet minister Nanaia Mahuta on Māōri Television, Pōkere-Phillips said, “We wouldn’t have a housing issue if Labour had done what it had promised.”

In its first term, the Labour Party promised to reduce the number of homeless, boost state housing stock and build thousands of homes. However, about 400 of its promised 100,000 KiwiBuild houses have been built, Pōkere-Phillips said.

In the debate, Mahuta refused to say the exact number of houses that have been built but admitted the Labour Party had under-delivered and more work needed to be done.

“We’re not building enough homes, we understand that. We’ve only had three years in government.”

No simple solution

But Mahuta argued housing wasn’t simple to solve.

“We’ve got to address the issues of homelessness and insecure housing, moving people into transitional and supported housing, building up the public stock because we’re not a government who want to sell off state houses."

Working with iwi was the way forward on housing, Mahuta said.

“The delivery pipeline on housing isn’t that simple and that’s what I’m saying is fundamentally different about our government is that we know, for example, in places like Hamilton, in the urban area for Māori housing, it's best for us to work in partnership with iwi and that’s because of the nature of the Treaty settlement there and what’s happened to the Housing New Zealand properties.”

Kāinga Ora homes

Mahuta said construction was also underway as part of Kāinga Ora, a Crown agency that provides rental housing for New Zealanders in need.

“They’ve got homes scheduled to be built in Pukekohe. They’re building homes in Hamilton but let’s be very frank, not nearly enough in the three years of being in government. We know that we’ve got work to do.”

Māori Party housing policy

As part of the Māori Party’s housing policy, Pokere-Phillips said the party would create an iwi building industry one in government.

“What that will do will firstly will put the roof over our heads for whānau. Secondly, it will create employment, thirdly it will create apprenticeships and trades and it will bring our whānau into the construction industry.”

She said the Māori Party promised to build 2000 homes in two years, “rather than the 400 homes that Labour has given thus far.”

That would mean 300 would be built in Hauraki-Waikato if those were divided between each rohe (region) in Aotearoa, she says.