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Economic restructuring, housing policy and Maori housing in Northland, New Zealand.

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Geoforum, 26(4), 325-336

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This article examines the impact of political and economic restructuring of the 1980s and 1990s on the housing situation of Māori households in Northland, New Zealand.

It first provides an historical section examining how housing policy has impacted Māori throughout the 20th century. It also details how housing policy in New Zealand has been strongly directed toward the encouragement of home ownership and how this reinforces the British model of the home and property ownership, which has created a system which was in many ways inimical to the housing aspirations of Māori communities. It then focuses on the changes brought about by the economic reforms initiated in 1984 and their differential effects on various sectors, regions, and social groups. The authors then analyse the housing situation of Māori in Northland, discussing issues like home ownership, the rental sector, housing costs, and overcrowding. The paper uses the then newly created Māori Housing Database developed for the Ministry of Housing to examine Northland. Using this dataset that covers 1981, 1986, and 1991 and has three subsets across Northland, they outline the home ownership rates for Māori and non-Māori across the region, provide information on the rental sector including whether they have a public or private landlord, and rent to income ratios. As they conclude, the data shows how the recent economic reforms in New Zealand have seen Māori marginalised both in the labour force and within the housing system. The reforms, they argue, have resulted in low incomes, widespread unemployment and high levels of welfare dependency, which in combination with unfavourable legal structures and private sector institutional practices including discrimination, have consigned Māori to a disadvantaged position in the housing sector.

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