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Māori experiences of social housing in Ōtautahi Christchurch

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Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 18(4), 352-369

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This research explores the experiences of Māori tenants in social housing within Ōtautahi Christchurch, New Zealand, highlighting the critical intersection of housing, cultural appropriateness, and wellbeing.

It underscores the vital role of housing as a determinant of health, affirming that access to culturally appropriate housing is a fundamental human right recognised by the United Nations and the World Health organisation. The study illuminates the historical context of Māori disenfranchisement in housing due to colonial policies and practices, which have led to a disproportionate representation of Māori in social housing and homelessness. Utilising a Kaupapa Māori research framework, the study provides an in-depth account from Māori tenants’ perspectives, emphasising the importance of housing that not only meets basic physical needs but also supports the cultural and communal aspects of Māori life. The findings reveal that the experience of social housing for Māori tenants is deeply influenced by their journey into housing, the negotiation with social welfare systems, and the creation of a sense of community within housing complexes. The research highlights the significance of communal spaces for fostering a sense of belonging and the pivotal role of leadership within tenant communities in nurturing social cohesion and community spirit. The study provide insights into the need for social housing policies and designs that align with Te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview), advocating for housing solutions that encompass the principles of kotahitanga (unity), manaakitanga (care and support), and whanaungatanga (relationships). By focusing on the lived experiences of Māori tenants, the research underscores the necessity of embedding Māori cultural values and practices into the design and operation of social housing, ensuring that housing not only provides shelter but also promotes wellbeing and a sense of home for Māori tenants. This work calls for a reimagining of social housing that honours and reflects Māori identities and needs, paving the way for more culturally responsive and equitable housing solutions in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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