Demand for ‘affordable, warm’ papakāinga housing soars

As rental prices soar, so does the demand for papakāinga housing.

Those building the collectively owned homes on Māori land have access to significant government funding to support them to keep rent below market rate.

The developments also allow whānau to live on their ancestral land and make use of underutilised whenua.

New papakāinga housing in central Auckland.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has just opened 10 new homes in central Auckland to achieve just that.

“The key driver is just about bringing people back. We have been spread to all parts of the compass and the globe through the loss of land, through the trauma that has happened over the last three or four generations,” Ngāti Whātua deputy chair Ngarimu Blair said.

“It’s very affordable.”

Te Puni Kokiri is willing to pay for all of the infrastructure costs, including roading and earthworks, and up to 75 per cent of construction for papakāinga rentals.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has accessed some of the infrastructure fund and received a $1.2 million grant under the Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga – Ministry for Housing and Urban Development’s MAIHI Partnerships Programme.

It's also a registered community housing provider and receives an income-related rent subsidy to keep rent cheap.

“The tenants will be paying 25 per cent of their super, their income,” said Ngarimu Blair.

Kararaina Calcott-Cribb, the Housing Ministry’s Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga deputy chief executive, said she was pleased to see the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei development come to fruition.

“We’re proud to support Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei in their continued revitalisation of their papakāinga and the healthy, warm, dry homes being provided through this Kāinga Kaumātua.

“Kaumātua housing is a critical development for the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei community where kaumātua will be at the front and centre of the village and actively contribute to the well being of the marae and their whānau.

"The housing provided in this development is high quality and located in one of the most outstanding landscapes. Added to this beauty, is that the kaumātua will be embraced by whānau and mokopuna who will be in turn be nurtured by their pakeke within their marae footprint.”

One tenant, Matepurua Maihi, said without the support from the agencies and hapū, there was no way he would be able to afford to live there.

“We're expecting a reduction [in rent]. Not market rate rent. Otherwise, none of us would be here.”

Hamiora Bowkett, co-lead deputy chief executive for Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga Māori Housing, said there had never been more demand for papakāinga.

“We used to get 10, 20, 30 inquiries a month a couple of years ago around papakāinga, and that's increased to two hundred, three hundred inquiries a month.”

Each house in the new Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei complex has two bedrooms and access to stunning views of Auckland city and the harbour.

For the hapū, the papakāinga is particularly special given its long history of land loss.

The kaumātua tenants were just children when the crown evicted them from their land nearby in Okahu Bay for housing.

“There’s a lot of mamae, a lot happened way back in the 50s. We were once proud owners of Tāmaki before the arrival of the settlers,” said Matepurua Maihi.

Ngarimu Blair said the hapū had come along way since then.

“The houses were actually burnt and so for that generation now, for ten more of them to return into some high quality housing right next to the marae, is really amazing.”