Greater Māori participation
The declining rate of Māori home ownership led to Māori demands to be given more power to solve the issue themselves. In 1988 the government agreed to hand over to iwi (tribal) authorities some degree of ownership and control of housing resources. This saw an expansion of papakāinga (Māori village) housing schemes, where low-deposit state loans were provided to build homes on Māori land that had multiple owners, usually around an existing marae – few private sector lenders lent on multiple-title land.
There have been a number of other schemes:
- The Rural Housing Programme began in 2001 to renovate and replace housing. Between 2001/02 and 2010/11 nearly $140 million was spent on the scheme and 2,900 houses repaired.
- Community Owned Rural Rental Housing Loans ran between 2002 and 2008 and provided $6.6 million in low-interest loans to Māori trusts to build rental housing. Units were then leased back to Housing New Zealand for 10 years.
- Special Housing Action Zones began in 2000 and continued in 2013. It partnered government housing agencies and charitable trusts with Māori communities to build new housing and has been among the most successful Māori housing interventions.
Some urban Māori received housing support from Māori urban authorities and trusts. However, most remained reliant on social housing providers such as Housing New Zealand (in 2006, 12% of the Māori population lived in Housing New Zealand housing) or the market to meet their accommodation needs.
In 2011 the Pūkaki Trust received a $770,000 loan and a $770,000 grant from Housing New Zealand’s Housing Innovation Fund to build 10 houses on its papakāinga near Auckland airport. The development would provide affordable rental housing for low- to middle-income Pūkaki whānau and would allow them to retain their independence while also having access to outdoor communal areas and their marae.
In the early 21st century many of the problems that had long beset Māori housing remained. Houses where Māori lived were often sub-standard, cold and damp. This was sometimes because it was these dwellings that were the most affordable. At other times it was due to a willingness of Māori households to accept lower-grade housing to live close to whānau. Overcrowding remained a problem. In 2006 about 23% of the Māori population lived in crowded households, close to six times the rate for Europeans. As before, this contributed to poorer health outcomes for Māori. In 2009 health researchers found Māori children aged 5–14 had an acute rheumatic fever rate 10 times higher than that of Europeans. One of the identified risk factors was household crowding.
Low average incomes, unemployment and rising house prices (especially in Auckland) continued to be barriers to Māori home ownership. In 2006 the proportion of Māori aged 15 and over who owned or partly owned their home was 29% compared to a national rate of 50%.
From 2010 the government sought to improve Māori housing outcomes through the Whānau Ora (well families) scheme. Its aim was to reduce welfare dependency among Māori by making them financially independent and healthy members of society. The policy acknowledged that housing was only one element to Māori wellbeing: health, education and legal issues were important too. The vision was for government housing agencies to work with Māori trusts to build housing for Māori who were prepared to be part of Whānau Ora – this might include agreeing to things such as not smoking and not drinking excessively. The scheme, initiated by the Māori Party, highlighted how Māori solutions to housing problems had now become part of mainstream thinking.