Rebuilding the Kāinga: Architect Jade Kake on the struggles to develop Māori land

The confiscation of Māori land and its ongoing impacts are the focus of a new book by architect Jade Kake.

Rebuilding the Kāinga: Lessons from Te Ao Hurihuri, looks into the challenges facing those wanting to develop their whenua, and suggests solutions to combat these obstacles.

Māori retain just five percent of the land they once held, most of it undeveloped or unoccupied.

"One of the barriers has been that until very recently, the Government funding available for papakāinga has only really been for housing," Kake told Newshub Nation. 

Papakāinga are not just housing developments, but are made up of communal spaces like marae, gardens and industrial areas.

"There's a cap on how much you can borrow - $1600 a metre squared which you can't build anything for - and it hasn't been updated in a long time.

"It also requires you to be able to be able to physically remove the home if you default on your mortgage, which is a really absurd rule." 

Kake says there are other issues around finance, governance and access. 

"There are good examples [of papakāinga developments], but every single one of them has required a dedicated whānau driver who has stayed with that project and pushed it through." 

She says the grant money available for planning and infrastructure, "absolutely must continue." 

"There's also funding to get developments started so that we can become self sustaining over time." 

In Whangārei, Kake is helping her whānau with plans to develop their own whenua into a papakāinga development. 

"We're looking at a cluster of eight to ten homes for the first stage, then following a clustering pattern around the contours of the site and in this iteration we end up with 50 homes." 

"At the far end of the block we've got plans for a light industrial park and then there's also plans for bush regeneration... as well as plans for marae."

Kake says the whenua was put into forestry during the 1970s, to prevent it being taken by the local harbour board.

"We're just so grateful that we still have this place, because I know there are plenty of other whānau who are totally landless, they have nowhere to come back too, and that's a really common story." 

However, putting the land into forestry meant it was difficult to sustain a settlement on the land.

"There was a real push to assimilate Māori to Pākehā ways of living, so there were policies like pepper potting and living in Pākehā style housing which didn't necessarily meet the needs of whānau Māori." 

"For those who're not living together it's harder to maintain relationships, it's harder to make decisions as a whānau and it's harder to participate, and I can see the contrast between those who have been able to maintain those relationships and those who haven't."

Newshub Nation.