Regional | Māori

Housing plight highlighted in Whangaruru

Rural housing difficulties in New Zealand frequently go overlooked in favour of urban housing challenges community advocates in Northland say.

This week, the Whangaroa Ngāiotonga Trust held a hui in Whangaruru to discuss the region’s urgent housing shortage. What it found was whānau living in unacceptable conditions.

Whangaruru, a community dominated by Ngāti Wai in Northland, suffers from massive underinvestment, particularly in housing. One look at the homes in the region gives a clear indication of the struggle.

Kapotai Tamihana lives in three 6m x 3m cabins that house him, his partner, and six children.

“I live in three cabins with six children. As lovely as it is, it’s still a struggle. We are having to use our homestead kitchen and toilet, and there are actually 19 of us living on our whenua.”

Just down the road, Hone Rapata and his wife, Daphne, are in their 80s. Having moved from Auckland to return home, they need to renovate their home but lack the funds to do so. To make matters worse, their home is situated right on the water, making it prone to flooding.

“That’s the thinking on our minds now: whether we look at another home that’s a bit more comfortable or we just do up this place? If you’re looking to do it up, you’re looking at about $50,000-60,000.”

The Whangaroa Ngāiotanga Trust has called on government departments as well as local housing providers to find a remedy. Departments like Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Housing and Development and local groups like Te Pouahi o Te Taitokerau came to Whangaruru to hear from the locals, who numbered well over 100.

Whangaroa Ngāiotanga Trust co-chair Huhana Lyndon, who is also standing for the Greens in Te Tai Tokerau, says the iwi wants movement on housing.

“It is whānau, our old people, people who are living here at home; they want to restore their homesteads; some want to build new homes for whānau who live away to return home.”