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Enumerating homelessness in rural Maori communities

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Parity, 30(8), 15-16

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Kake addresses the challenges of accurately enumerating homelessness in rural Māori communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Kake highlights the lack of official data and difficulties in categorisation, which affect policy and funding. She points out that in rural Māori communities, homelessness often manifests differently than in urban areas, with many living in makeshift dwellings on ancestral lands. Kake notes that the Social Housing Register, managed by the Ministry of Social Development, is a key tool for quantifying acute housing need but has significant gaps, particularly in representing Māori households in rural areas. Kake discusses the challenges faced by community housing providers, especially in rural Māori communities, including the difficulty of transitioning whānau from the Work and Income register to the Social Housing Register. She also notes the phenomenon of reverse urban drift, where families return to ancestral lands due to high urban living costs, further straining rural housing resources. Kake suggests that a solution could involve supporting providers to collect data consistently and feed it into Statistics NZ’s Integrated Data Infrastructure. However, she also raises concerns about data sovereignty and the need to protect the anonymity and ownership of whānau data. The article underscores the need for a more robust and inclusive approach to housing policy that accurately reflects the needs of rural Māori communities. Kake advocates for a model that facilitates partnership between providers and central government, recognizing the unique challenges and ensuring effective responses to housing needs in rural Māori areas. This piece sheds light on the complexities of homelessness in rural Māori communities and the importance of culturally sensitive and accurate data collection to inform effective policy responses.

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