Māori state house tenant appointed to Housing NZ board

For the first time, a Māori state house tenant has been appointed to the Housing NZ board. 

Disability activist and lawyer Dr Huhana Hickey looks to bring a new perspective to the director role.

Hickey says, "I hope I can actually bring the voice of the very tenants that live in there.  There's a range of us- we're not all P addicts, we don't all have a lab in our house."

Hickey is a panel member of the Human Rights Review Tribunal and has a PhD in law and science.

The Auckland-based resident says the numbers of elderly, disabled and families living on the streets is a big concern.

"We could do things very well if we utilised a similar model, such as whānau ora, and provided wrap-around services for them and their families.  We could provide people with housing, get them transitioned into work, education and give them a good life."

This week state housing issues came under the spotlight when leading Māori GP Dr Lance O'Sullivan challenged the Housing Minister after a 28-year-old solo mother approached O'Sullivan with claims her Auckland state house was "making her kids sick."

"They are.  That's the reality and we've now got that other academic on board who's done research in the area of sick homes.  The reality is a healthy home makes for a healthy family," says Hickey.

Former CE of Manukau City Council Leigh Auton and Otago Medical School Professor Phillipa Howden-Chapman have also been appointed to the board.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford says the board's three new appointments will help move the organisation towards its goal of becoming a "world class housing landlord."