Iwi and Crown join forces to address housing crisis with new rental complex
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Representatives of the Waikato-Tainui and the Government have signed an agreement to build an affordable rental housing complex that includes 250 houses.
The initiative is part of the Hopuhopu Innovation Hub and a direct response to the housing crisis, says Waikato-Tainui’s general manager of oranga and housing, Marae Tukere.
“It’s about well-being as a whole and it starts with a house.”
Tukere says the iwi wants to provide homes to tribal members who need housing stability while fostering a positive community environment.
“This is significant because this is a really big investment between the Crown and us as the iwi in response to the housing crisis.”
She could not yet confirm the value of that investment.
The housing complex will be part of a bigger initiative at Hopuhopu that will include a whare tāonga (museum), iwi sporting arena and a communal nursery.
Associate Minister of Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta, a descendant of Waikato-Tainui, says rising inflation has made it difficult for many to buy a home. Raising a deposit is too hard unless the iwi proactively makes it happen, she says.
“If we can do more of that in very real and tangible ways then we’re all winning.”
The signing of the agreement on Friday, at Auckland War Memorial Museum, kicked off the annual Kīngitanga Accord meeting that also discussed Māori well-being and changes in legislation governing the Waikato River.
Kīngitanga spokesman Ngira Simmonds says the iwi considers the river a tupuna (ancestor) that represents its mana and mauri (life force).
Its authority, rights of control and co-management of the river were recognised by the Crown under the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Act 1995.
Restoring and protecting the health and well-being of the Waikato River was the overarching purpose of the settlement, he says.
“Today, we were able to exchange some significant conversations about the Waikato River, for example, and changes to legislation and the Government and all Governments.
“It doesn’t matter what political party they’re from, they all have a job to do.”
Ngira says the accord is a commitment to enhance and sustain the relationship between Waikato-Tainui and the Crown, confirming each group’s obligations to the others.
Among the attendees were Kiingi Tuheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero II, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, Te Arataura chair Tukoroirangi Morgan and Nanaia Mahuta.
Hero Image: Waikato-Tainui chief executive Donna Flavell and Te Arataura chair Tukoroirangi Morgan sign a deal to build an affordable housing complex. Photo / Maioha Panapa