Native Affairs - A community solution for housing

By Peata Melbourne

The Northland town of Moerewa is facing problems of damp and damaged homes and it’s making them sick. But instead of waiting for a Government handout, the 1400 residents are taking matters into their own hands.

The Tū Te Aroha project started in January and is an initiative using helping hands within the community to fix their homes.

“Everybody's got a part to play. They may not have pingas (money) but they have other things, and that's the key thing for me as Māori,” says Ngahau Davis from He Iwi Kotahi Tātou Trust, which manages the housing project.

Eighty percent of the residents in Moerewa are Māori and there are just over 500 homes in the area. The trust has completed fixing six houses and are working on five more. Their target is to complete 15 homes by October.

"We have to go for a criteria which is the most vulnerable to the number of children, around visits to the doctor, around sickness in the house. There are some cancer patients and they just need a quality of life so there's a whole lot of variables that give us an indication of which houses we need to do first," says Davis.

Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori development has chipped in $25k per house and the trust receives support from Presbyterian Support Northern.  But it’s estimated volunteers and sponsors have added another $50,000 worth of free work to the project. There’s a further one hundred homes on the waiting list.