15 Jul 2015

Call for better engagement with Maori over housing

8:30 pm on 15 July 2015

Auckland Māori are being kept in the dark about what's being done to solve the city's housing woes, the MP for Tāmaki Makaurau says.

Auckland housing, pictured from Mt Eden.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Labour MP Peeni Henare said the Government and iwi in the region had been in talks about the issue, but those meetings were happening behind closed doors.

"We know of meetings being held currently and in the past week with the Minister of Housing around the housing issue and while I encourage those kinds of meetings and dialogue to take place with the minister, my concern is that your normal Māori people in Tāmaki Makaurau are missing out on housing in the first instance, and the engagement with a strategy that will ensure that housing meets their needs."

Peeni Henare said while there are plans to build huge social housing projects or housing in general in Tāmaki Makaurau, the concern was that they're still overpriced.

"The market is over-inflated and Māori cannot even get a foodhold in that market. I've spoken to many of my constituents who have been out to the auctions in the market for a home and most of the time the bidding starts, it's outside their price range.

"Yet the value that's being placed on the house is at 'X' and they think they're in the ball park and then it doubles and they're not even in the game, so there's just huge concerns for families in Tāmaki Makaurau."

He said Māori made up only 3 percent of the housing market in Auckland which was unacceptable.

"We know that there are those living in impoverished conditions and are low income, but there are also a heck of a lot who are working hard, young professionals who can't even break into that market so if they can't, then there's sure as hell no hope for many of our whānau who are living on the breadline."

Peeni Henare said the Government and iwi should share their dialogue with Auckland Māori, so they can have some sort of vision and hope for the future.

Labour MP Peeni Henare during caucas run April 2015.

Labour MP Peeni Henare. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Henare said there was a difference between what the Government was saying and what was being heard at the grassroots level as to the severity of the problem.

"There is a breakdown in communication somewhere, but we shouldn't be too surprised because this has been the engagement of this Government with our people.

"That information needs to be given to all of those affected parties and at the moment it isn't - and vice versa, the conversation should be able to go back up the line where whanau's concerns and ideas are being heard by our tribe as well as our Government."

But he said it was not just the Government at fault.

"I'm calling on iwi to come clean and talk to the people and relay the plans and the dialogue they're having with the Government."

Both the Minister for Housing Nick Smith and the Iwi Chairs Forum have not responded to a request for comment.

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