MSD and Housing NZ Strengthening Relationship

I was pleased to attend a National hui hosted in Hamilton pulling together regional managers for MSD and HNZ to discuss how further strengthened alignment of their services could improve outcomes for their clients.

My speech highlighted the direction that the Government is taking to tackle intergenerational wellbeing by looking across the board at a whole lot of aspects that could work together to improve outcomes for whanau.

This means that we are no longer merely talking about building houses but thinking about what ‘wellbeing’ means in the context of whanau or community. This approach means that the more Government agencies understand their client, then the better the response.

I also raised the new approach that the Government is taking to ensure that a Living Standards Framework which sets out the indicators, targets and measures for tackling intergenerational outcomes is an important step forward. This will be the first time that the four capitals (social, human, cultural and physical/economic) will be considered alongside each other.

For Māori this will mean that Government starts to think about collective wellbeing when making decisions or, simply put, focussing on whānau, hapū or iwi. I raised an example in my hometown of Huntly and the sad reality that my hometown has the highest youth crime rates in the Waikato. If we apply a wellbeing approach that is designed to achieve impact amongst whanau with multiple challenges (often referred to as ‘high risk’) then we need a whole lot of partners in the room who could support an approach for whanau or community-led strategies. In effect, these strategies would be co-designed and materialise in a series of actions and collaborations where the outcomes inform the way in which services respond.

In the Waikato, it’s evident that there is also scope for useful partnerships to work in collaboration with iwi. This requires a high level of strategic leadership and co-ordination which delivering on initiatives such as housing developments, home ownership, training apprenticeships and employment opportunities, building financial capability of whānau.

I was happy to share some valuable insights from the investments made by Te Puni Kōkiri in the papakainga area. A common feature is the benefit of housing for whanau to start to vision and plan towards a future, build whānau financial capability and understand how they would sustain a mortgage and all their obligations, think about smart procurement that could create training and employment opportunities, consider what community or whanau enterprise initiatives could be paired up and seeking other partners for these types of projects.

The last word was to encourage both Government agencies to continue to innovate their service focus to continue to improve ‘client’ focussed outcomes.

A house can be so much more when we put people at the centre of our thinking and we want whanau to have warm healthy homes – and that they pursue home ownership as a real option.

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