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Useful Citizens: Citizenship, Capital and Māori Housing Outcomes

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New Zealand Population Review, 48, 46-77

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This article examines interplay between citizenship, capital, and Māori home ownership in Aotearoa New Zealand, tracing its origins back to the Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Rout conceptualises the Treaty as an exchange where citizenship was traded for land, highlighting how the Crown’s failure to fulfil its promises has perpetuated Māori financial disenfranchisement over centuries. The paper explores the evolution of Māori citizenship post-World War II, noting a period where the Crown seemed to uphold its commitment through social welfare, only for this social citizenship to be revoked in the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. These reforms, Rout argues, not only changed the nature of citizenship but also transformed housing from a right to a means of generating capital, exacerbating Māori exclusion from the housing market. Rout’s analysis includes a critique of the Crown’s land sales and the disproportionate capital gain it secured from such transactions, severely impacting Māori economic standing. The paper also scrutinises the impact of economic and social policy changes on Māori, particularly during the late 20th century’s neoliberal shift, which saw a significant retreat from social welfare and a move towards a market-driven housing model. This shift had a pronounced effect on Māori, who faced increasing barriers to home ownership amidst rising house prices and declining real income. Rout suggests that the decline in Māori home ownership is not merely a result of market forces but a continuation of colonial practices that have systematically deprived Māori of their resources and rights.

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