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Special needs versus the ‘level playing-field’: Recent developments in housing policy for indigenous people in New Zealand.

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Journal of Rural Studies, 10(1), 73-82

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This article provides analysis of the Papakainga Housing Scheme and its implications for the rural Māori population.

After providing a history of previous similar schemes, the authors provide some information about the scheme itself though there is no rigorous detail. The scheme, it notes, was initiated in 1985, aimed to address legal barriers preventing Māori from building on communally owned ancestral land. By 1992, it had approved 901 loans, signalling a significant impact. In the article it is noted that the scheme has three key benefits: it recognises cultural differences such as the Māori attachment to land and turangawaewae; it helps to develop a key Māori resource; and it can help to revitalise isolated rural communities. The authors do argue, however, that the scheme is not integrated with provision of other services and employment opportunities, that there are legal and planning barriers to its implementation, and that the scheme no longer accords with the prevalent orientation of state policy in New Zealand, characterised by contestability and a belief in a ‘level playing-field’. They also outline the issues with the increasing divergence between funding and provision of social services, arguing that the best outcomes come through holistic approaches. As the authors note, the article raises the issue of whether government should provide targeted housing assistance to groups with special needs, with related issues surrounding whether the Treaty requires special provisions for Māori.

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