'People helping people': Moerewa homes transformed by generosity

A Northland Trust wants more funding to help the hundreds of families in Moerewa - and around the country - who are cash-strapped to repair their homes.

Thirty-one houses have already been repaired in the Northland town thanks to countless volunteer hours, local donations and Government funding, He Iwi Kotahi Tātou Trust said.

Te Puni Kokiri's funding for Māori Housing has not changed in the past two years, remaining at $19.6 million. There was an additional one-off $15 million set aside in Budget 2018 (until June 2020) for community housing repairs and papakainga development.

But He Iwi Kotahi Tātou Trust's funding dropped by $100,000 because of increased demand nationally, forcing the Trust to be selective in what it could fix, Trust spokesperson Ngahau Davis said.

"Maybe a roof, the plumbing, the electrics, those are the basic things around safety for that whare," he said.

Applications also had to be prioritised, Mr Davis said.

"For every 20 houses, we had over 100 people apply and all with need," he said.

The Trust received $330,000 last financial year, and some of those funds helped to refit Lorna Turner's home. One year later, her family home is unrecognisable.

"The toilet, the bathroom, the sitting room [is new], oh well - most of everything."

Her kitchen cupboards were locally fitted and the curtains locally sewn - it was a community effort, Ms Turner said.

"I would be out on the street and people would just come up to me: 'Lorns I've been in your house, I've been painting!'" she said.

Her son, who worked at the town's main employer, the freezing works, was out of work for a bit so he helped sand the windows.

"People would just come in and help," she said.

It had been a mission of the Trust's to employ locally, Mr Davis said.

"This project was about people helping people," he said.

Paint had been donated by an Auckland business and NorthTec trades graduates put what they had learned into practice.

"People get together showing generosity, using skills," Mr Davis said.

Because in Moerewa, the issue of home ownership was not as marked as the need for funding to maintain homes people owned.

"If you're on the benefit and you're only just making ends meet, you're not going to be able to put stuff back in to doing windows and then you have to have the skill," Mr Davis said.

Ms Turner said she felt like her home's transformation gave her a fresh start.

"There are 30 houses in this little town that are thankful, they're new beginnings - that's what it is, eh," she said.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said new funding in Māori housing would allow an increase in the maintenance and repair area.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: