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Responding to homelessness in New Zealand: Homelessness and housing first for Maori: Meaning and optimisation

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Parity, 30(8), 41-43

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Rigby explores the intersection of homelessness with Māori traditional knowledge, values, and perspectives within the context of New Zealand's Housing First model.

Rigby argues that Māori therapeutic approaches and mātauranga offer valuable opportunities for mainstream social services to engage with and learn from indigenous perspectives, thereby enriching the support provided to individuals experiencing homelessness. The paper delves into the concept of “Te Puea Marae’s response” as an indigenous-inclusive solution to homelessness, highlighting the importance of elevating tikanga in formulating policy and addressing social issues independently of the Treaty of Waitangi’s legal frameworks. Rigby critically examines how the Housing First model, a proven approach to alleviating homelessness, particularly for those with mental health and substance use disorders, can be optimised to better address the needs of Māori and other indigenous populations. The article calls for a more holistic service provision that tailors mainstream services to effectively cater to Māori/Indigenous clients, acknowledging the ongoing need for such approaches due to the urgent and persistent nature of homelessness among these communities. It emphasises the significance of cultural engagement as a protective factor and explores the potential for such engagement to benefit not only Māori but also Pākeha clients. Rigby offers a call to action for incorporating Māori perspectives and solutions into the broader strategy to combat homelessness. By advocating for a deeper understanding and integration of Māori values and therapeutic approaches, the article underscores the potential for a more inclusive and effective response to homelessness that respects and leverages indigenous knowledge and practices. This approach not only addresses the immediate needs of individuals experiencing homelessness but also contributes to a more equitable and culturally sensitive social service landscape in New Zealand.

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