UPDATED: New govt unit announced for Māori housing

updated By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford has announced the establishment of a dedicated Māori Housing Unit.  Te Puea Marae chair Hurimoana Dennis says the new unit needs to consider the Māori worldview.

Furthermore, Dennis says it needs to be backed up by more funding.

"Don't create policies around Pākehā law only.  The policies must consider the spirit and essence of Māori, through Māori processes," he says.

Twyford is promising to deliver with new Māori Housing Minister Nanaia Mahuta at the helm. 

"It's all about ensuring that our general housing policies deliver the goods for Māori and that we are developing tailored policies specifically to address Māori needs and aspirations," he says.

$15mil from the budget will support whānau-led community housing developments, and $5.8mill new funding for housing repairs and building financial capability.

"To me that's just pittance but, then again, this is just the start," says Dennis, "I have high hopes in the new position led by Minister Mahuta."

The appointment of Mahuta to head the new Maaori Housing unit was well received by the delegates at the National Māori Housing conference.  However the minister admits there's much work to be done.

"There's a wide spectrum of needs that we will look to address, from homelessness to those wanting to buy a home," says Mahuta.

Twyford says the Māori home ownership rate is only 43% compared to 63% for the general population and Māori also make up 36% of public housing tenants.

"Māori are five times more likely than Pākehā to be homeless," he says, "We are committed to making sure our policies deliver for Māori, through Kiwibuild, building more public housing and ending homelessness."

The government is working with Māori organisations, including partnering to provide Housing First services for the chronically homeless.

"As Treaty settlements are completed, iwi are increasingly looking to invest their land and capital in developments that will supply much-needed housing."

The Land for Housing programme currently has, or is working on, 11 agreements in partnership with iwi for potentially 2,260 KiwiBuild units.

“We also know that 13 percent of those households who have enough income to service a mortgage on a KiwiBuild home are Māori households, which roughly reflects the Māori share of the general population.  Whānau are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that KiwiBuild offers." 

Tywford says he is looking to broaden the pool of first home buyers to include more Māori households through shared-equity programmes.