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Building inequality.

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In M. Rashbrooke (Ed.). Inequality: A New Zealand crisis. Bridget Williams Books, , 105-117

Published Year

This chapter explores the significant impact of housing on the health, wealth, and overall well-being of residents in New Zealand.

It underscores the historical and ongoing disparities in housing quality, particularly affecting Māori and Pacific communities, and the broader societal implications of these inequalities. The chapter provides a historical overview of housing policies in New Zealand, tracing the evolution from colonial times to the present day. On Māori, it notes the failure to provide one tenth of Wellington land to be set aside for lease on behalf of Māori, state that “The case of the ‘Wellington Tenths’ exemplifies a history of neglect of Māori needs that has continued to the present day.” The chapter highlights the consequences of substandard housing, including high rates of infectious diseases and the exacerbation of wealth and health inequalities. It also notes how Māori have long been treated unequally. As the authors explain, before World War Two, Māori had been excluded from mainstream housing assistance on the basis that their needs would be met by the underfunded Native Department and it was only in the mid-1950s that Māori were able to apply for State Advances loans. Consequently, Māori living conditions were poor. This was exacerbated with urbanisation, and the unequal incomes. Māori were also, as they authors note, subjected to increased racism as they moved into the cities. The chapter also provides details on Department of Māori Affairs housing scheme and the state loans to Māori in the post-war period, giving statistics on both. The analysis points out the failure of the private sector to adequately address housing needs and the importance of state intervention in providing quality, affordable housing. It emphasises the need for a mix of social housing, privately rented houses, and owner-occupied homes, alongside revised housing regulations, to bridge the gap between different socio-economic groups. The chapter offers an in-depth exploration of the complex relationship between housing, health, and inequality in New Zealand. It effectively illustrates how historical policies, especially those impacting Māori and Pacific peoples, have led to persistent disparities in housing quality. The analysis is thorough in examining the multifaceted impact of housing on various aspects of life, including health, community belonging, and economic stability. The chapter also critiques the reliance on market-led solutions for housing, advocating for more proactive government policies.

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