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Kāinga Kore: The Stage One Report of the Housing Policy and Services Kaupapa Inquiry on Māori Homelessness

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Waitangi Tribunal, ,

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This priority report by the Waitangi Tribunal examines the critical issue of Māori homelessness within the broader context of the Housing Policy and Services Kaupapa Inquiry.

It highlights the urgency and complexity of homelessness as a multifaceted challenge, deeply intertwined with a myriad of issues including supply, affordability, discrimination, policy inadequacies, and the historical grievances of Māori dispossession since the nineteenth century. Despite its focused scope, the report acknowledges the difficulty of isolating homelessness from these interconnected issues, underscoring it as a manifestation of systemic marginalisation faced by Māori for decades. The Tribunal examines the Crown’s efforts to address Māori homelessness since defining the issue in 2009, critiquing the lack of adequate consultation with Māori, the failure to implement a Māori housing strategy, the reduction in social housing provision relative to need, and the tightening of access to social housing registers. These actions, or lack thereof, led the Tribunal to concur with the Crown’s admission of treaty breaches during the initial inquiry period. The report acknowledges steps taken by the Crown since 2018 towards ameliorating these failures, including the development of new strategies for homelessness and Māori housing, increased public housing construction, and financial allocations for Māori housing needs. However, it also points to ongoing challenges such as inadequate data collection on homelessness, insufficient consultation with Māori, poor agency coordination, and the lack of a reformed welfare system. In detailing the living conditions of Māori returning to rural land, the report reveals the hidden poverty and unacceptable living standards that are familiar to many but overlooked by broader society. It underscores the claimants’ interest in establishing a Māori housing authority to address homelessness and housing challenges through a treaty-based partnership approach, though recommendations on this matter are deferred to future discussions and reports. This report serves as a critical reflection on the systemic issues contributing to Māori homelessness and the Crown’s obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi. It sets a foundation for further inquiry and action towards equitable housing solutions that respect Māori tino rangatiratanga over kāinga (sovereignty over homes) and the fulfilment of equitable housing outcomes as per the treaty’s guarantees.

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