Iwi makes securing housing a major post-cyclone goal

8:39 pm on 14 March 2023
Havelock North public meeting over the contamination of the bores that supply Havelock North's water. Bayden Barber, organiser of Walk for Water.

More than 1000 whānau needed help with their housing needs soon after Cyclone Gabrielle, Bayden Barber says. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Moving whānau into emergency housing, re-building the road network and getting the economy back up and running are the top three priorities for Hawke's Bay iwi Ngāti Kahungungu.

The iwi authority chair, Bayden Barber, said he had been in meetings to try and work out options for whānau who lost their homes in Cyclone Gabrielle.

"Working with government agencies, Te Puni Kokiri, Ministry of Urban Development and Kainga Ora to basically understand what's available from the government from a supply side of things, and securing our communities over the demand side of things, so that we know how many people need housing so we can fill the gap," he said.

Te Matau-a-Māui had been in a housing crisis for years, he said, and that had been made significantly worse by the cyclone.

"Now we've got a number of whānau, that was over 1000 at one stage staying in transitional housing, which is basically motel accommodation. Those are still pretty full."

Barber said the iwi and agencies were working out whether accommodation like cabins could be built on marae land.

With the state of emergency now lifted, Barber said the full recovery could take years.

"The next part of the recovery is looking at our economy, looking at our business sector, what are the recovery packages in relation to horticulture and related industries."

He said they were working out how to support the number of whānau who did not have insurance, which he described as a delicate situation.

"Twenty-five percent probably uninsured and then you've got another 25 percent that are under-insured.

"We're talking with our government partners, the Crown to look at possible options for those families... from their point of view, they don't want to serve precedents where the government seem to bail out people that are not insured."

Barber said the time was coming to have a mature conversation about the whenua, because many places were no longer safe to live.

"Māori are very loyal to the whenua, to their turangawaewae, where they're from and many are of the mind that they're gonna stay there," he said.

"They're not even healthy environments to be living in. I mean, you've got silt. When it dries it turns into dust, when it's wet it turns into mud so we need to think wider, broader, bigger picture you know long term.

"What is the best for these communities?"

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