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Young Mothers at Te Tipu Whenua O Pa Harakeke Talk About What Makes a House a Home

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Finding out from young mothers what makes a house a home can help guide housing policy and strategy to ensure that young mothers and their whānau (kinship collective) have accommodation that not only meets their requirements for how they want to live but supports them to grow into their full potential as a whānau.

In this study, young mothers at Te Tipu Whenua o Pa Harakeke, Flaxmere, Hawke’s Bay took part in housing discussions towards the end of 2020. This small study trialled the HOMING method. This is an innovative technique designed by Dr James Berghan that uses blocks to help people to articulate what makes a house a home for them and allowed us to work with young mothers to get an insight into what they value in a home.

The first session of the study involved four young women at Te Tipu Whenua o Pa Harakeke using the HOMING method to describe what made a house a home for them, what they valued most, and whether or not they had the things they valued in their current accommodation. The second session was a facilitated discussion of housing and home with seven young women at Te Tipu Whenua o Pa Harakeke, including three from the first session.

The research found that there were three critical dimensions to a sense of home: the people (e.g., their babies, their whānau), the resources which allow them to support togetherness in a dwelling (e.g., cooking, furniture), and the liveability of a dwelling, in particular the general cleanliness of their accommodation. For three of the young women, the things they valued were largely present in the houses they currently occupied. Even so, they said they had limited choices around their accommodation. The young mothers found that finding a place of their own was inhibited by dealing with prospective landlords who they felt often judged them negatively for being young mothers.

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