Landlords deny Māori from rental properties: 'A lot of racism'

One Māori woman was rejected, then reconsidered when she applied using a Western name.
One Māori woman was rejected, then reconsidered when she applied using a Western name. Photo credit: Getty

By Meriana Johnsen for RNZ

Landlords denying Māori rental properties is such a prolific problem that Māori with good incomes are having to reach out to social services, an iwi social housing provider says.

It comes after one wahine Māori caught a racist landlord red-handed, after she was rejected for a property and then re-applied with a Western name.

When she was contacted by a landlord - that only half an hour prior had told her the property was gone - to say it was available - she told the landlord that he had just rejected her when she applied with her Māori name.

He then told her "I don't want your type in my house", and told her that Māori did not know how to look after a house and were involved with drugs and alcohol.

Kahungunu Whānau Services chief executive Ali Hamlin-Paenga said she sees cases like this almost weekly, and many property manager's often assumed Māori could not pay rental market rates.

"There's a lot of discrimination and a lot of racism and we would get people making contact with us at least once a week."

Hamlin-Paenga said a property management company previously told their own organisation that they did not rent properties to Māori.

She said that the issue was bigger than just landlords, and people needed to understand that these stereotypes about Māori are racist and harmful.

"Many of these people, like the land-agents, would have no idea about their behaviour because for them it would be normal."

She was concerned that when Māori were actually offered a rental property, they were typically of poorer quality.

"This is a real issue because our vulnerable become even more vulnerable and are treated really bad and this has a huge affect on many of our whānau - and as we know, Māori women, single mothers, those with a disability are more likely to be on the receiving end of this discrimination," Hamlin-Paenga said.

"Life is already hard and this just adds to the complexity and to the issues that our most vulnerable are actually experiencing on a day-to-day basis."