Ōtangarei Papakāinga opening

Introduction:

·       Congratulations Ōtangarei Papakāinga whānau, I am so pleased to be here with you today to celebrate the opening of this papakāinga. 

·       I want to acknowledge you all on your hard work and commitment to ensuring everyone in your community has access to healthy, safe and warm homes, while also understanding how a kaupapa Māori setting can positively impact Māori whānau.  

·       As the first kaupapa Māori transitional community of its kind, I wanted to acknowledge the model you have created from the community. 

·       My team at Te Puni Kōkiri have been working with you and your parent trust, Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Ōtangarei. That relationship is a respected long standing one.The work we do at Te Puni Kōkiri now sits alongside a broad Government commitment to deliver housing solutions from the homeless to homeowners . 

·       Māori are overrepresented among people experiencing homelessness. We know compared to December 2015 in December last year there has been a 300 percent increase in the demand on the housing register for Māori alone. 

·       In Whangārei alone there were 321 whānau who required assistance last year compared to 2015 where there was only 70 whānau who needed assistance. 

·       We need new approaches to tackle the issues that whānau with insecure housing face. 

·       That’s why earlier this month the Prime Minister announced a plan to ensure our whānau who are homeless or most at risk of homelessness are looked after. 

·       This Plan has four key pillars; Prevention, supply, support and system enablers. This includes 1000 new transitional housing places delivered by the end of the year. 

·       More funding to programmes that prevent those at risk of losing their rentals and supporting people out of motels and into permanent accommodation.

·       We also believe Kaupapa Māori approaches provide a different approach that model solutions for whānau and their community. 

·       It’s about people, housing and the supports that can be provided from the community. 

·       This model in Ōtangarei will include wrap around social services and support for whanau. 

·       The three-phase process being adopted will move whānau into more secure transitional housing, then on to permanent housing and employment; and finally, secure housing or home ownership and community contribution. 

·       This approach recognises that we need to work in partnership and we want to ensure that we are able to walk alongside you to achieve these broader aspirations. 

·       Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Te Puni Kōkiri working in partnership with Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Ōtangarei and Ōtangarei Papakāinga Limited are involved in this approach as is MSD and I anticipate as the model evolves the Council and other providers will support a kaupapa Māori approach. 

·       When I initially  visited Otangarei, it was clear that your community had a sense of what would work for Otangarei whanau first – nobody else except yourselves.

·       So projects such as this is one way we can learn from your approach and perhaps apply elsewhere.

·       From the sod-turn, laying the foundation and the infrastructure works through to construction and all the planning and specialist trades in between.

·       I understand that this project used local businesses and suppliers. Knowing that we have a high need for employment in the region and community you too can enable and empower our whānau to be utilised and employed as part of these types of projects.

·       Housing is a big issue for our whānau in Te Taitokerau. In 2019 we together with the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand commissioned research to look at supply and demand of housing in Te Taitokerau. 

·       Key findings included:

o  Large proportions of Māori households are stressed and are in need;

o  Declining affordability affects both renters and owner-occupier households;

o  Home ownership level are lower for Māori compared to non-Māori and renting levels are higher; and

o  Overcrowding is the most significant housing issue and occurs in both owned and rented housing. 

·       Further the report identifies immediate action through:

o  Increasing the supple of new build, affordable, right sized housing;

o  Upgrading existing stock where viable or replacement of non-upgradeable dwellings with new builds; and

o  Partnered, cross-government and Iwi/Māori service provider approached being implemented to generate evidence and solutions. 

·       In Te Taitokerau we’ve aligned our work programme to respond to these recommended actions highlighted in the report. 

·       Te Puni Kōkiri has been able to support 18 housing project and distribute over $4.6 million in the region to provide a broad range of housing support options for whānau Māori. 

·       We have supported over 30 whānau to repair their properties to ensure they the new standards of living, with the hope that all New Zealanders have a safe, warm and healthy home. 

·       Last year between July and December we manage to approve over 16 new housing projects in Te Taitokerau. 

·       The projects include, Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa who are working on essential repairs to whānau homes in Tākou Bay for the past three years.  

·       Their initiative – Te Oranga o Ngā Hapori – takes an integrated approach towards enabling a thriving, sustainable and self-reliant Tākou Bay community.  

·       This is a whānau-led community development approach where housing contributes toward achieving intergenerational wellbeing in Māori communities. 

·       In Kaitaia since October 2019, eight whānau totalling 34 people are now in homes on the rent-to-own programme at He Korowai Trust.  

·       The programme used surplus houses re-located from Auckland to Kaitāia, with a long-term rent-to-own model for low income whānau Māori. This is part of Te Puni Kōkiri’s trialling of innovative home ownership models. 

·       Housing is just one part of the government’s support for whānau Māori; the other focus has been on whenua. In Te Taitokerau we have supported over 3,900 hectares of Māori-owned land for whenua development. 

·       In addition to this over 1,400 owners of Māori-owned land are being supported with whenua development.

·       We’ve launched tupu.nz, the whenua knowledge website to help land owners access important data and information about the specific land block and its potential capability for productive use. 

·       Regional advisory services are also available throughout team at TPK to help land owners map out a plan from succession to governance to accessing finance.

·       I also just announced a package of changes to the Local government (Rating) Act which will remove some of the barriers to using and developing Māori land. I mention these changes because we know there is a direct link to significant challenges.

·       The other topic which I just want to also mention is the kaupapa of water. I know that the north is currently experiencing issues with water.

·       I want to acknowledge the efforts Councils from Whangarei to the Far North have gone to develop an immediate response during the drought. Long term resilience and planning for meeting drinking water, municipal and industry needs is a serious next step as we consider a future where land development and housing needs will grow.

·       We have also made an initial contribution of $ 2 million to support the local response to the drought with Minister Henare working with Local Mayors and NIWA on a plan going forward.

·       To close, housing is an anchor for overall well-being. Good quality housing and access to good education, employment, transport and cultural services, is a building block for thriving whānau and developing strong Māori communities. 

·       Ko te whare e hanga te tangata, ko te tangata e hangaia e te whare. The whare (whare tangata) builds the people and the people build the whare. 

·       I look forward to seeing further updates and watching as I hear stories of the whānau who will occupy this papakāinga flourish and thrive. 

·       Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā rā koutou katoa.