Māori Housing Policy Round-up: Māori Party

Next up – Te Paati Māori. The Māori Party have always been clear that they will work with whoever forms government to ensure Māori have a seat at the table. Dame Tariana Turia left a formidable legacy under the previous government, and Minister Flavell has increased funding and support for Māori housing initiatives under the current. But do the policies stack up? Te Matapihi provides a perspective.

 

The Māori Party housing policy document Whare Oranga outlines an extensive list of policies under the subheadings of homelessness, renters’ rights and home ownership, and introduces several overarching structural and strategic moves within central government.

 

The Māori Party have pledged to:

·         Create a Minister for Māori and Pacific Housing to address the complex challenges, from homelessness to home ownership, which high numbers of Māori and Pacific families face

·         Develop a 25-year government enabled National housing strategy that builds on He Whare Āhuru He Oranga Tangata – The Māori Housing Strategy and addresses the entire housing spectrum, including specifically responding to the over representation of Māori and Pacific whānau in severe housing deprivation

Although there are several housing products and services offered by Te Puni Kōkiri through the Māori Housing Network, the current Minister for Māori Development does not have explicit responsibility for housing within his ministerial portfolio. A Minister for Māori (and Pacific) Housing would have the ability to put up housing papers for consideration by cabinet (Associate Ministers may also submit papers to cabinet within their designated area of responsibility, provided the senior Minister responsible has clearly been consulted and agrees). Ultimately, this means the ability to develop new – and propose changes to existing – housing legislation.

 

Prior to retiring from Parliament in 2014, the previous Associate Minister for Housing and Minister for Whānau Ora Dame Tariana Turia championed the first National strategy for housing Māori, He Whare Āhuru. The strategy, which runs through to 2025, identifies six strategic directions for improving housing outcomes for Māori, and increasing the supply of housing by Māori organisations. Three years on and it is evident that further work is needed to ensure that the desired outcomes identified through the strategy are being appropriately monitored and evaluated, and to ensure that policy is developed to underpin the strategy.

 

The policy states that the proposed strategy would “hold the Government to account to reduce the rates of homelessness and severe housing deprivation through the setting and monitoring of specific targets and measures”. A great place to start would be monitoring and evaluating the current strategy, He Whare Āhuru, and developing policy under this strategy (and ensuring adequate human resources are allocated to do so). Any new strategy developed post-2025 would need to clearly engage with and build on He Whare Āhuru, however from our perspective this may be best driven from the sector (outside of government), with strong support and ownership across government.

 

N.B.: Te Matapihi provided written feedback on an early version of this policy, and forwarded an internal Te Matapihi document detailing election year policy priorities from our perspective. This offer has been made to all political parties, although most have been limited to verbal discussions of varying degrees of formality.

 

Table 1. Māori Party’s Housing Policies – Summary

Outcome

Policy

Driver

Type of intervention

Availability

Build 30,000 houses over 2018/19 and a further 60,000 houses over 2019-2022 (half in Auckland), 120,000 houses in Auckland by 2025

Supply

Direct provision

 

Invest in community and iwi led housing projects

Supply

Investment

 

Support communities to develop urban papakāinga

Supply

Regulation, investment

 

Increase the number of qualified Māori and Pacific across the whole construction sector

Supply

Subsidies, better information

Affordability

1000 new Whānau Ora navigators with specialist housing knowledge to assist whānau into home ownership

Demand

Direct provision, better information

 

Allow low-income whānau to capitalise on their family support allowance, tax credits and/or accommodation supplement as a deposit for a home

Demand

Regulation, taxation

 

Re-introduce low interest housing loans for Māori and Pacific families

Demand

Direct provision

 

Deliver financial literacy and budgeting support for successful low-interest housing loan applicants

Demand

Better information

 

Reform Kainga Whenua fund and introduce a Māori Housing Equity Fund

Demand

Regulation, subsidies

 

Introduce progressive ownership options for first time home buyers

Demand

Direct provision, subsidies

 

Subsidise private developers to include a percentage of affordable housing in their projects

Supply

Subsidies

Quality

Kainga Ora ‘Well Housing’ initiative to identify whānau living in substandard housing and co-ordinate assistance

Demand

Social investment

 

Compulsory annual warrant of fitness for all rental homes

Demand

Regulation

 

Provide government subsidies and/or tax breaks for the installation of efficient energy, heating and water supply systems

Demand

Subsidies, taxation

 

Require landlords to test for methamphetamine use if there is a reasonable suspicion of contamination prior to tenanting

Demand

Regulation

 

Reintroduce the Drinkable Water Supply fund to ensure every home is attached to a drinkable water supply

Demand

Regulation, subsidies

 

Promote developments that support Māori cultural preferences and whānau dynamics by establishing an independent design review panel

Demand

Better information

 

Support iwi-based and kaupapa Māori providers to participate in state housing stock transfers and social housing contracting opportunities

Demand

Regulation, better information

Security

Fast track funding of marae and community organisations to provide immediate emergency housing

Demand

Investment

 

Whānau Ora housing navigators to support homeless whānau and individuals into homes, and assist tenants and landlords to understand their rights and responsibilities

Demand

Direct provision, better information

 

Review of the private rental market to ensure whānau have access to suitable, habitable homes and tenure security at a fair price

Demand

Regulation

 

Introduce a cap on rent increases for all state-owned social housing stock and explore rent caps for private rentals

Demand

Regulation

 

Review the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to restore equity to the Tenant and Landlord relationship and promote housing security, and improve regulations around the release of bonds

Demand

Regulation

 

Require all community housing providers and all Crown providers of state housing (such as HNZC) to provide for tenant involvement in governance

Demand

Regulation

 

There are many interesting ideas in the policy document that warrant further detailed development and discussion (including some controversial ones, such as rent control), most of which is outside the scope of this analysis.

 

We’ll be limiting our discussion to three whānau-centred policies, which we think have the potential to make a difference for Māori (and which have not been covered in our analysis of other parties’ policies). These are:

 

1.       Whānau Ora housing navigators

2.       Kāinga Ora ‘Well Housing’ initiative for whānau living in substandard housing

3.       Support for marae as front-line responders to whānau housing crises

 

For each of the selected policies, Te Matapihi have asked ourselves – will it work? And will it make a difference for Māori?

 

Whānau Ora housing navigators

This policy will see the recruitment of 1000 new Whānau Ora navigators with specialist housing knowledge to support whānau and individuals to:

·         Access secure housing

·         Understand their rights and responsibilities as renters

·         Enter and remain in home ownership

Whānau Ora navigators (Kaiārahi) are practitioners who work closely with whānau to identify their needs and aspirations through whānau planning and supporting their achievement of goals. Once whānau are past immediate crisis, navigators also work with whānau to build their capability to be self-managing in a range of areas.[i]

Will it work?

Similar navigation approaches are currently being implemented in an ad hoc way at a regional level, for example Inez White’s Indigenuity programme supporting whānau into home ownership in Waiariki, and Paul Sheerhan’s approach to papakāinga construction management, which sees him working alongside whānau project managers to build regional capacity and capability in the Hawke’s Bay. These successful regional initiatives could benefit from greater resourcing and coordination from central government, with the learnings gleaned from formal evaluation applied to support adaptation and rollout across other regions.

It’s difficult to assess whether 1,000 navigators is a realistic or appropriate number (meta-analysis of Te Puni Kōkiri’s inquires register, data held by papakāinga workshop facilitators and other providers, and housing related inquiries received by Whānau Ora providers may provide the best indication of current need) but at a ratio of 1:15[ii] this would mean 1,000 navigators providing assistance to 15,000 whānau per year nationwide, in addition to the approximately 5,000 whānau currently supported by Whānau Ora navigators.[iii]

To meet the goal of producing 1,000 Whānau Ora navigators with specialist housing knowledge, sector capacity and capability will need to be increased exponentially. The development of comprehensive training programmes, delivered by regional champions from the sector, may be one way to achieve this, possibly using a ‘train the trainer’ model. Given the three strands of support proposed, this may require the development of regional generalists, supervising specialists trained to respond effectively to each of the three tenure types / housing situations.

A further consideration – given the specialist skillset required – is where will these specialist navigators be housed? Within Te Puni Kōkiri regional offices? Within Whānau Ora providers (such as iwi/hapū or mataawaka health and social service providers)? And how will these services connect with other advocacy and information touchpoints, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, Māori Women’s Welfare League, and the various renters’ unions?

Will it make a difference for Māori?

In our experience – and through discussions with providers and programme evaluations undertaken by papakāinga workshop facilitators – many of our whānau are operating from a very limited knowledge base with regards to housing, and require a lot of support to be empowered to meet their own housing needs. Additionally, the lack of coordination at a government level continues to negatively impact on Māori whānau attempting to access information and assistance.

Whānau Ora’s own programme evaluations – and our experiences within the housing sector –suggests this approach could make a difference for Māori, however there are cost implications, with programme evaluations indicating that although Whānau Ora is making a positive impact, the whānau-centred delivery model is significantly more cost-intensive than conventional approaches.[iv]

Overall, a promising idea that warrants further investigation.

 

Kāinga Ora ‘Well Housing’ initiative for whānau living in substandard housing

Kāinga Ora is one of three place-based initiatives nationwide, established in 2016 as part of the government’s social investment approach to improving outcomes for children, young people and their whānau identified as ‘at risk’.

Place-based interventions are a “collaborative means to address complex socioeconomic issues through interventions defined at a specific geographic scale”, such as a neighbourhood or region, provide solutions for complex social issues, and rely on local and specific community knowledge and the collaborative involvement of community stakeholders to create positive change.

Kāinga Ora focuses on supporting whānau through coordinated community-based delivery of health, social services and education programmes. The programme aims to assist an estimated 6,000 children and young people and their families over 5 years, initially concentrating on 570 children and young people in three target communities (Kaikohe, Otangarei and Kaitaia).[v]

This policy will expand the Kāinga Ora approach with the introduction of a ‘Well Housing’ initiative to identify whānau in substandard living arrangements, and work with intermediaries to target and co-ordinate assistance.

Will it work?

Although place-based interventions are gaining traction internationally, they are for the most part still in the relatively early phases of implementation. Because of this (amongst other factors, including the complexity of the problems place-based initiatives seek to address), there is limited evidence that place-based approaches result in improved outcomes for children and families long-term.[vi]

Kāinga Ora has now entered its second year. It is initially focused on three target communities, the results of which will be used to test and refine the broader programme. Whilst it is too early to evaluate the programme’s success, a robust monitoring and evaluation framework is in place, which is essential to ensure cycles of continuous learning improvement.

The name ‘Kāinga Ora’ focuses on the importance of the home, and the idea that the home environment is foundational to the social development of our tamariki me ngā rangatahi. It also refers to an integrated community response and the kāinga in its more holistic sense, incorporating social, cultural and economic dimensions. Given the holistic aims of the initiative, incorporating a housing component would appear to be a logical expansion of the programme, in line with the original policy intent.

Will it make a difference for Māori?

The approach to housing assessment taken by Te-Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-O-Ngāpuhi in their delivery of the essential repairs programme (funded through the Māori Housing Network, Te Puni Kōkiri) involves assessing both the building and the whānau, and coordinating interventions across the iwi development and social services arms of the organisation.

Now in its second year, the essential repairs programme – based on our discussions with the provider and results reported to Te Puni Kōkiri in fulfilment of contract requirements – appears to be getting results for our most vulnerable whānau in Kaikohe by improving their immediate housing situations. Given the apparent compatibility with Kāinga Ora, this programme would likely benefit from greater integration with the Kāinga Ora initiative with a view to longer term outcomes.

If it was monitored and evaluated using the same consistent and structured framework in place across the three place-based initiatives, high quality data could be produced to inform policy-making, which could see this approach subsequently rolled out across Te Taitokerau and high-deprivation areas such as Tairāwhiti and South Auckland.

 

Support for marae as front-line responders to whānau housing crises

Last winter, Te Puea and Manurewa Marae in Tāmaki Makaurau demonstrated the significant role of (particularly urban) marae in responding to whānau housing crises, extending aroha and manaaki to our most vulnerable as they have always done. Much public dialogue was generated in response, with many wondering, is the marae relieving government of its social responsibility?

This year, Te Puea continued their significant Manaaki Tangata programme with the support and collaborative involvement of key government agencies, with a focus on solo or dual-parent families with children. This policy aims to fast-track the resourcing and funding of marae and community organisations to provide immediate emergency housing for everyone in need.

Will it work?

The current ad hoc approach to emergency housing funding has highlighted an urgent need for better data collection in developing government responses to homelessness and housing insecurity. Additionally, initial assessments of government emergency housing spend (budgeted vs actual) suggest that the current policy of providing motel accommodation for homeless families and individuals is not cost effective.[vii]

Reports on last winter’s programme demonstrate that the Manaaki Tangata programme is working to support Māori whānau into housing, and further research and evaluation is currently underway. Whilst it won’t resolve the issue of new supply, expanding programmes such as Manaaki Tangata is an important component of a coordinated government-led response to the housing crisis, meeting the immediate housing need needs of whānau in the short-medium term.

A further consideration may be how to effectively build the capacity of more marae (particularly in urban areas and particularly those with land) to deliver frontline services associated with whānau housing crises. For non-urban marae, tangihanga may be an issue that will need to be carefully managed. It may also be worth scoping the availability of under-utilised Crown-owned land and buildings to be used as delivery sites for programmes such as Manaaki Tangata.[viii]

Will it make a difference for Māori?

Yes. With Māori making up a disproportionate percentage of those experiencing homelessness, expanding culturally-based approaches will make a huge difference for Māori whānau.

Further consideration will need to be given to how marae and community-based programmes such Manaaki Tangata can be sustainably ramped up in response to crisis events, and phased out over time as housing supply increases.

This is the fourth article in Te Matapihi’s Māori housing election year series. Each of the subsequent articles will tackle a political parties housing policy, under the sub-headings of availability, affordability, quality and security, with a focus on what these all mean for Māori. The series will conclude with a ‘scorecard’ comparison of what works, what doesn’t, and what’s likely to make a difference for Māori.



[i] Te Puni Kōkiri. (2016). Whānau Ora Annual Summary Report: 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.tpk.govt.nz/mi/a-matou-mohiotanga/whanau-ora

[ii] As determined by Te Puni Kōkiri contracting requirements – Te Puni Kōkiri expects each navigator to co-ordinate services to 15 or more whānau each year. As reported in: Office of the Auditor-General. (2015). Whānau Ora: The first four years. Retrieved from http://www.oag.govt.nz/2015/whanau-ora

[iii] Based on a reported 3682 whānau assisted by Te Pou Matakana, 201 by Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, and 1453 by Phase One Collectives in 2015-16

[iv] Office of the Auditor-General. (2015). Whānau Ora: The first four years. Retrieved from http://www.oag.govt.nz/2015/whanau-ora

[v] Office of the Associate Minister of Education. (2017, 19 May). Northland Place Based Initiative, Kāinga Ora – Progress Report. Retrieved from https://education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/information-releases/the-northland-place-based-initiative/

[vi] Moore, T.G., McHugh-Dillon, H., Bull, K., Fry, R., Laidlaw, B., & West, S. (2014). The evidence: what we know about place-based approaches to support children’s wellbeing. Parkville, Victoria: Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health. Retrieved from http://www.rch.org.au/uploadedFiles/Main/Content/ccch/CCCH_Collaborate_for_Children_Report_The_Evidence_Nov2014.pdf

[vii] Cooke, H. (2017, July 20). Govt spent record $12m on emergency housing in motels over last three months. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/94936945/govt-spent-record-12m-on-emergency-housing-in-motels-over-last-three-months

[viii] Māori Television. (2017, 23 August). Harawira calls for Te Puea chair to recommission old boarding schools for homeless [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.maoritelevision.com/news/regional/harawira-calls-te-puea-chair-recommission-old-boarding-schools-homeless