13 Dec 2018

Papakura marae launches papakainga project

From Checkpoint, 6:14 pm on 13 December 2018

A South Auckland marae which is a central hub for its community will now be able to house its kaumatua.

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was on hand to launch the project which is the first from the $15 million Māori Housing Fund.

But the stark reality of the community's struggles were on show at the lauch - as hundreds of people queued up for the Auckland City Mission's Christmas drive.

Before the Prime Minister made her way onto Papakura Marae this morning - there were already hundreds of people lining up.

But they weren't there to see the prime minister - they had arrived for the second day of the City Mission Christmas food drive.

Papakura Marae is a central hub for the community - and this year it's part of the Auckland City Mission's food drive.

And now the marae will create a million dollar housing development or papakainga for its kaumatua.

Māori have a 20 per cent lower home ownership rate than the general population - and are a five times more likely than pākehā to be homeless.

And Jacinda Ardern said the numbers weren't good enough.

"We've got to do something across the board, both on ownership, both on homelessness on public housing - every part of the housing issue we are putting our best foot forward."
The Prime Minister was welcomed onto Papakura marae alongside the Māori development minister Nanaia Mahuta to launch the papakainga project.

And seeing the high numbers of people lining up for support at the Marae, Ms Adern said was confronting.

"I do go and visit and make a point of talking to the Work and Income staff who are often there alongside - check what the needs (and) why they think we're seeing extra spikes.

"Yes that is confronting  - we need to hear that we need to know where that need is and what more can be done."

Papakura Marae chief executive Tony Kake said the Marae staff deals with the community's struggles on a daily basis.

"That's our reality - we're dealing with people who are long term homeless through to people (who) just can't make ends meet.

"Our mission statement for the Marae is manaaki whānau i ngā wā katoa which is about unconditional support for our families." 

Papakura Marae provides health services, housing service and social welfare support.

But, Mr Kake said it's also been a long-term goal for the Marae to establish kaumatua housing.

The six kaumatua houses will receive $1 million from the Māori Housing Fund which will be built on the edge of the Marae boundary.

Bryan Joyce has lived in Papakura for 59 years and said the initiative will allow kaumatua who've worked at the Marae all their lives to have a comfortable home.

"They want to put their names down to be in those units."

Attempts to purchase housing for kaumatua in the past had been stymied by Auckland's soaring housing prices.

"We've got no money to build flats we've tried to get in the market and buy some of these houses that are adjacent to the marae."

Tony Kake says he wants to start to building the new homes by June next year - and the City Mission's christmas drive will continue over the next two weeks.