Te Matapihi assists Māori to overcome social housing obstacles

By Piripi Taylor

Māori housing advocacy group Te Matapihi is meeting with Māori to provide guidance in developing their housing aspirations. The need for support is even greater now after last month's landmark budget investment of $380 million into Māori housing. 

The aim is to help marae, hapū, iwi and communities overcome obstacles in their paths to establish social housing for their people.

"Some of the obstacles that stop the development of those aspirations are accessing funding, local body regulations and government policy," Te Matapihi general manager Wayne Knox said.

Te Matapihi has just held a hui to share its experiences and offer advice. 

It's a first of a series being planned by Te Matapihi, its ethos - to pave a pathway back to sustainable living.

"We whakapapa to Ngāti Whātua, to Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Tūwharetoa. So we're able to use our CHP status to not only help our whānau who are situated up in the Kaipara," Tracey Panapa said. "But we can go all around the motu to help all our whānau."

One of the first obstacles is the process to register as a community housing provider or achieving CHP status. Te Māhurehure Marae in Point Chevalier is a year into applying for CHP status after beginning its housing strategy in 2017. 

"It enables us to build our whare and then those that are on the social housing register, our whānau, they're able to come and rent a whare from us at the marae, at a cheaper rate and that's what is needed here in Tāmaki Makaurau," Te Māhurehure operations manager Tracey Panapa said.

Currently, there are only 18 registered Māori community housing providers. One of them is Ngāti Whātua provider Te Kāhui Tū Kaha, whose advocacy is proving invaluable to those who are just beginning their journey, the hui participants heard.

Makaurau Marae representative Pania Newton said the dream to further develop housing and a papa kāinga project for Ihumātao is a long-held aspiration. 

"Currently, we're addressing and evaluating what is the strategy for Ngāti Te Ahiwaru, what is the strategy for Makaurau Marae, what is the strategy for Ihumātao and that is where our focus is at present.

"That is the reason we're here today to learn, listen and create partnerships," Newton said.

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae principal Hare Rua said he's looking at how to help keep quality Māori language teachers at his school. 

"I've come to access information and knowledge from the experts here at this hui, like Wayne, and from other speakers and look at how we, as a school alongside our marae, can develop a strategy to establish housing for our teachers. Not for all our teachers but for those who find it difficult to secure housing for them to stay in Auckland."

"There are challenges that hinder progress but it doesn't render it impossible. Talking with the right people is key,"  Rua said.

Te Matapihi is planning a second hui wānanga to be held in Wellington over the coming months.