Grant’s Kōrero: A visit from Minister Tama Potaka and our mission for whānau homes in Ōrākei

Here at Whai Rawa, an ongoing goal we are constantly striving towards is investment in quality housing for whānau. There is already clear evidence that we can deliver in this area with Kāinga Tuatahi as a great example where we built and sold 30 terraced houses to whānau. This was done at the ‘above ground’ build cost with long-term mortgage finance provided by the hapū.

Another example I will draw on is Kāinga Kaumātua, which has seen 10 new rental whare designed with kaumātua and built for kaumātua on the papa kāinga. We also own 110 houses which are rented to whānau on the papa kāinga and have a dedicated team of four responsible for maintenance on these properties.

Our latest investment in whānau housing is the Hawaiki development, which is now well underway, thanks partly to funding received from Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga. When we recently hosted the Minister of Māori Development, Tama Potaka, it was a great chance to give him a tour of Hawaiki and share firsthand our drive towards even more homes.

We wanted to reiterate to Minister Potaka that Hawaiki is just the beginning of our work to deliver 100 homes* for whānau in Ōrākei. We have land, plans and are ready to invest more in this work but have been looking for funding from the Government to assist.

This isn’t without its hurdles, and we’ve had several disappointments recently in unsuccessful funding applications. It’s important to acknowledge that there are many people in Aotearoa that need assistance with housing, not us alone, but we also appear to miss out frequently due to the cost of both land in Ōrākei and building in Tāmaki Makaurau.

But a funding decision  on cost alone disregards other important factors at play such as the cultural drive to reconnect hapū members with their hapū, marae and whenua. On top of this, we also mostly acquire land from Government entities and are required to pay full market value for it.

Increased Government assistance isn’t the only aid which could see us hit our target of 100 more homes in Ōrākei faster. For instance, we need to be having conversations around banks doing more. Although it’s great to have two banks on board and providing mortgage finance for whānau buyers at Hawaiki, it was unnecessarily hard to get to this point.

In hosting the Minister, we had the chance to share some of these challenges we face and communicate that while the whare we build may be for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei whānau, the bigger picture is about working towards solutions for problems other iwi are facing too.

We will continue our engagement with the Government keeping a close eye on their initiatives and playing our part in assisting with housing challenges across Aotearoa.

*We will be sharing more about our plan for 100 more homes with whānau in the coming months. Kia mau tonu mai.