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Homeless and landless in two generations: Averting the Māori housing disaster

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In Cram, F., Hutchings, J., & Smith, J. (Eds.), Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua: Māori housing realities and aspirations. Bridget Williams Books., , 62-80

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This chapter examines the decline in Māori home ownership rates, which have dropped from 71% in 1936 to below 40%, contrasting sharply with the national average for Pākehā (70%).

As the authors state, if Māori home ownership continues to decline at the rate it has been falling since 1991 Māori will almost be entirely renters by 2061. It argues that the Māori housing crisis is primarily structural, rooted in historical and contemporary policies since colonisation. The authors note a number of factors including land loss, intergenerational poverty, mind colonisation, Māori land legislation, and neoliberalism, particularly the 1991 “Mother of all Budgets,” which exacerbated Māori unemployment and housing insecurity, resulting in the significant drop in Māori home ownership. As the report outlines, there are a number of causes of the Māori housing crisis, which is precipitating social and economic problems. This paper argues that two are fundamental: Māori losing their intergenerational capital base through colonisation and the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s and particularly 1990s. The first impoverished Māori and the second removed the supply side housing supports that were working to increase Māori home ownership rates and housing quality. The authors argue that state intervention in the market is required to reverse the trend and produce more homes, more efficiently, and at lower prices, while ensuring that Māori are able to access these homes through income related rents, direct lending, mentoring, support, and an accommodating public sector. It suggests interventions for reversing this trend, emphasising the need for a significant increase in state housing, alternative finance options, and regulatory reforms to support Māori homeownership and fulfil the government’s obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. As the authors conclude, the interventions outlined in many ways reflect the need for a return to government housing policies and approaches that existed prior to 1991; albeit updated for current circumstances. However, as they state, such as shift is also dependent upon a return to values that recognises the role of government in providing housing security as a public good, which simultaneously generates direct and indirect economic and social advantages to individuals, whānau, communities and the country as a whole.

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