Photo / Rākaunui 1B Ahu Whenua Trust via LDR
By Aden Miles Morunga, Local Democracy Reporter
The development of a papakāinga in Whāingaroa Raglan is rapidly progressing, and is on track to be completed in seven years.
Earthworks consent was granted to Rākaunui 1B Ahuwhenua Trust in September last year to begin transforming a 5.6 hectare piece of land into a communal housing space, including social spaces.
Trust chairperson Monika Newton-KareKare said the granting of the consent was a watershed moment for tangata whenua.
"If we look back at the history of our whenua in Whāingaroa and what little we have left in Māori ownership to develop, it becomes very significant in terms of allowing mana whenua their inherent right to once again live and thrive on the whenua of their tūpuna.
"There have been many struggles... To this day the ongoing injustices are hard to comprehend. We now have the opportunity to re-establish our presence and once we get real traction, we are looking at making and achieving results that will directly benefit and tautoko whānau."
In what will be a staged approach, the 5.6 ha piece of land in Raglan will be home to 22 dwellings, a whare whakaruruhau (communal space) with a kitchen and ablution block.
A community garden is also proposed. The housing will be a mixture of collectively owned affordable rental homes and whānau owned homes.
Still in its early stages, onsite work has started for internal roading, earthworks and storm water for 22 home sites, as well as a communal area for the wider whānau. Wel Networks plan has been finalised and the scheduling of works to be completed is in place.
The papakāinga is being developed in three stages; the beginning of the first stage will begin at the end of August.
"If we average out the 22 homes, we could be possibly looking at around 80-90 whānau calling Rākaunui1B their home. Just as important, the communal whare whakaruruhau will accommodate and provide an area for whānau to come together to reconnect, share, holiday, and learn."
Waikato District Councillor Lisa Thomson said it is exciting to see tangata whenua return to their whenua and to watch the progress onsite unfold - it changes almost daily.
"From discussions I have had with community members, there is an overwhelming sense of anticipation and support for the whanau Papakāinga at Rakaunui and we are looking forward to its continued progress."
This project was brought about after Waikato District Council and tangata whenua helped establish the Waikato Agencies Papakāinga Forum which brought together Waikato District Council, Waikato Regional Council, the Māori Land Court and primary funders Te Puni Kōkiri.
Stage one is expected to be completed in two years and stage two will begin around 2024.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air