New $40m housing deal between Government and Māori

Nanaia Mahuta revealed the aim of the funding.
Nanaia Mahuta revealed the aim of the funding. Photo credit: Getty

A $40 million partnership between the Government and Māori is set to get more Kiwi families into homes amid New Zealand's growing housing crisis.

On Thursday the Government announced $900 million in funding from their 2020 Budget to support whānau, hapū and iwi deal with the fall-out of COVID-19.

This included a trades training fund for Māori, funding for Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies, funding for the ongoing teaching of te reo, and housing innovation.

On Saturday Associate Minister for Housing Nanaia Mahuta announced the housing partnership aims to "get more whānau into warm, dry and secure accommodation".

"We are partnering with Māori and iwi to respond to the growing housing crisis in the wake of COVID-19," she says.

"Since the COVID-19 alert levels were put in place we've needed to stay home to save lives. For many whānau the security that a home provides was simply lacking, with many sleeping rough, living in overcrowded accommodation or in insecure housing situations."

She says the funding will build on $40 million committed over four years in the 2019 Budget and will enable iwi and Māori housing providers to create homes and jobs for those in need.

"I know there are many iwi and Māori organisations ready and able to deliver housing solutions with some crown support. These initiatives will provide much-needed employment in regional areas and drive our economic recovery.

"The additional funding will be used to accelerate the supply of quality housing stock for whānau through refurbishment. It will also support the delivery of more affordable housing options and support community-based housing projects.

"Partnering with our people, applying Māori principles and solutions and drawing on the strengths of all the players across the system will provide us with the best opportunity to deliver better housing for Māori."

The initiative comes on top of 8000 homes which will be funded by $570 million from the Government's 2020 Budget. They will consist of 6000 state and 2000 transitional homes.

But Matthew Tukaki, executive director of New Zealand Māori Council, says the problem is there are 16,000 people on the waiting list for a state home.

"Obviously they are only keen to fill half of what is already in demand at the moment... and the largest number of people on that list are Māori.

"The second challenge is: is $40 million enough to build houses in partnership with Māori to solve what is essentially a national housing crisis? The reality is we don't only have Māori who can't afford to buy their own homes, we also have a lot of our people who are now unemployed because of the shutdown from COVID-19."

He says many tradesmen have been left unemployed during the pandemic so questions if the 8000 houses will even be built.

"$40 million is a good step but there are also other things we can do to complement that and that still requires the Government to be bold and be brave and if they want to lift people out of poverty like they keep on saying they do then this is the opportunity."

On Thursday the Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis said the $900 million funding shows the Government's commitment to helping Māori through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"COVID-19 has taught us that when the Government and Māori work together, putting our people at the centre of everything we do, we can achieve great things together," he said.

"Today's $900 million investment shows our commitment to working together, our commitment to helping our whānau and our commitment to protecting the future for all Māori."

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