PM Jacinda Ardern has mandated me to be the Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development with responsibility for Māori housing. There is a significant opportunity ahead of our Government to positively impact on Māori housing outcomes and as we implement the Governments Housing agenda.
The creation of the new role for Māori Housing will ensure that the commitment to work with Māori to achieve their aspirations across the housing spectrum can be achieved. This will begin with the formation of a works tream that sets out our objectives from homelessness to homeownership (and everything in between)!
There will be plenty to do alongside Housing Minister Phil Twyford. Māori home ownership sits at just 43 percent compared to 63 percent for the rest of New Zealand. But the statistic that worries me most is Māori are five times more likely to be homeless with over 12,700 Māori now living in severe housing deprivation – twice as many as for the total population.
With more whānau living in overcrowded housing, many have to deal with the serious health impacts and we can do better. These issues cannot be fixed overnight but we are committed to making better investments in a range of housing options to respond to the needs in our community.
As Treaty settlements are completed, iwi is increasingly looking to invest their land and capital in developments that will supply much-needed housing. The Land for Housing programme currently has or is working on, 11 agreements in partnership with iwi for potentially 2,260 KiwiBuild units. Our Government has signalled that we are willing to explore partnerships with iwi and Māori organisations to consider the KiwiBuild programme as a way to secure and affordable homeownership option.
In Hamilton, we have initiated a collaboration between Waikato –Tainui and Housing New Zealand in a development called Te Kaarearea. This will mean tribal members will be able to be considered for 50 homes and 30 more will be available to the wider community.
The Government is signalling that we are looking for partnerships to make home ownership real for whānau and that social community housing developments can be done differently with iwi Māori involvement.
The Māori Housing Unit will be established under the new Housing and Urban Development Authority. The Unit be tasked to ensure that from homelessness to home ownership and everything in between. There will be a focus on improving outcomes for whānau that move beyond building houses to developing the capability of whānau so they have a sustainable solution for their future wellbeing.
2019 will be an opportunity to engage iwi Māori in our aspiration with a home and something to hope for – greater security for lifetime outcomes!