National Māori housing conference showcases Te Arawa housing initiatives

By Herewini Waikato

The challenge was set on Te Papaiouru marae today with a wero and haka powhiri by Ngāti Whakaue to over 400 participants at this year’s National Māori Housing Conference.

Hosting iwi Te Arawa kaikōrero Kingi Biddle said he was honoured to open his city to the many who had arrived to create change for Māori housing around the motu. “This is what Te Arawa are known for, manaaki tāngata, and we are obligated to do just that for a kaupapa like this,” Biddle said.

The conference has been built on the understanding that a forward-focused view is key to improving Māori housing outcomes. It provides a platform for Māori and stakeholders to share ideas, information, networks and aspirations, and to formulate solutions to assist Māori in quality affordable housing. Attendees were tangata whenua, government officials, and representatives from regions, communities, and the private sector.

The national Māori housing conference is a biennial event held throughout Aotearoa to provide an opportunity for the regions to showcase their leadership and contribution to housing that is unique to Maori.

Today the participants visited three Te Arawa housing initiatives: Rotorua Boys High School Trade Academy, Ngāti Whakaue Tribal Lands Affordable Housing and Ngāti Uenukukopako Transitional Housing. Te Matapihi He Tirohanga mō te iwi director Wayne Knox said the visits were about “sharing experiences, knowledge, trials, and tribulations, finding solutions to resolve the issue of housing for Māori and for all”.

Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga representative Lum Tahuri had come with his rōpu to listen, learn and share ideas. He said homes for Māori had always been an issue in Ngāti Kahungunu and surrounding areas but now after Cyclone Gabrielle, his people are struggling with housing even more. “

The majority of our homes have been flooded and our landscape has been destroyed and our families and their children and grandchildren are affected by the aftermath,” Tahuri said.

The outcomes hoped for were a better understanding and awareness of Māori housing development success and the key contributors; better agency understanding of current and future housing requirements in relation to iwi Māori communities; and improved understanding of home ownership products.

Biddle’s final message was clear: “We need to take these lessons home and put them into action to create change in this ever-changing housing space for our people,” he said.

Tomorrow parliamentarians will share their perspectives on priorities for Māori housing.