Māori and indigenous housing annotated bibliography


Author: Dr. Diane Menzies
Date published: 25 January 2018

There is consistency across the literature gathered from the year 2000 to 2017. The literature tells of long-term social impacts on Māori from the violence and misappropriation of natural resources by colonialization, to the grief of land dispossession, loss of economic resources, and impacts on community, whānau, place, language, education, health and culture. These aspects pervade the literature and are the initial context for much of the research. Māori have generally the lowest incomes and have suffered financial impact from rising rents and housing insecurity. Poor housing and homelessness has in turn affected Māori health, education and other social aspects.

The Productivity Commission and other researchers over this time have found that home for Māori starts with the ancestral home-place: important to Māori cultural identity. Home-place links are reinforced by physical associations with land, whakapapa, proximity to extended family, experience of te reo, and the importance of the marae. Home is about whānau, whenua and whakapapa. However, nearly 85% of Māori in New Zealand live in urban areas: a small proportion of whom are mana whenua, who may have remaining, or regained ancestral land. This latter aspect has enabled exemplar urban papakāinga developments in Auckland and Wellington. There are also increasing examples of rural papakāinga, where Māori have returned to their ancestral land to build housing. Ironically this trend, and the hard won successes, are the result of urban homelessness, or the struggle to survive with impossible rental payments. While there are complex reasons for homelessness, Māori are most affected and as income disparities and housing costs increase this is likely to continue. Over the period there have been several advisory publications on how to overcome the difficulties of building on ancestral land.

Finance for building remains a problem though. The housing crisis continues for Māori, especially for those living in the city, and there is insufficient affordable housing stock, especially in places near whānau, where people wish to live. Research identified discrimination by financiers on the basis of appearance: Māori appearance being less ‘mortgage worthy’. Recent development of land for social housing renewal is leading to gentrification, having most effect on Māori and those on the lowest incomes who cannot afford to live in the new developments.

Cultural understanding is important for building better homes for Māori. Many aspects of culture and building are interconnected, and this is important for connectedness to place as home. The rhythm of the natural world, values, and mātauranga Māori are emphasised by a number of writers and there are several publications that consider Māori place-based values, and their relationship to urban planning and low impact design, which authors consider are matters which should be understood ahead of building houses. Undertaking research using Kaupapa Māori methodology is also developing as a means to understand environment and development for Māori from a Māori perspective.

Design for Māori housing and the recent exemplars from North America provide a range of ideas of how sustainable and energy efficient buildings can be designed to respond to indigenous cultures. Māori still maintain mobile life-styles, which need to be taken into account in building size, flexibility and planning. Innovative building materials and systems are being developed by Māori, for Māori. Health and housing is a theme which permeates much of the literature, indicating that warm, dry uncrowded housing which support Māori values, including whānau and community contact, is of particular importance for hauora.