Budget 2024: Māori housing advocates left disappointed

Te Matapihi chair Ali Hamlin-Paenga

Māori housing advocates, who had hoped this year’s government budget would offer guidance and funding to assist more Māori families and first-time homebuyers in securing their own homes, have been disappointed.

The acting chair of the Māori housing advocacy group Te Matapihi, Rau Hoskins, has voiced concerns over Budget 2024, highlighting significant funding cuts to key housing initiatives.

Notable reductions, include a $1 billion cut for Kāinga Ora, $174.5 million from the Emergency Housing Review and Homelessness Action Plan, $40 million from Māori housing supply and investments, and $20 million from emergency housing.

“There are certainly no headlines prioritising housing. We are at a point where, if this government is prioritising social investment, then you would have started with housing because that’s your best investment in social outcomes.”

Hoskins said Te Matapihi would be looking at the budget in detail to see if there were other areas where there might be scope for the Māori housing sector to get more whanau into warm, safe, dry accommodation.

“As a sector we will look at those budget details, meet key officials and ministers and, as usual, make the best of what we have found ourselves with.”

Te Matapihi chair Ali Hamlin-Paenga says there are many projects where tools have been put down and housing developments have paused due to uncertainty over policy and funding. She said true direction on how much resourcing would be injected into the sector had been a long time coming.

“Many of us in the housing sector are waiting for decisions, waiting for direction, waiting to understand how we can support this government to achieve the housing aspirations that we are hearing from them.”

She said that many experienced Māori community housing providers and developers were prepared to resume their efforts and maintain the momentum

“Now is the time to lift the gaze and shine the light on our Māori providers who understand what our Māori people need, and inject some resource into them to allow them to do what they need to do.”

“We can deliver, we know how to deliver and we can deliver for all, not just Māori.”

Hamlin-Paenga said the ability to build on Māori land was an important part of the housing system that nobody had got right yet, and wouldn’t happen until the right people were at the decision-making table. She said there also needed to be a balance between delivering social housing and helping Māori into first home ownership.

“Sometimes the narrative is that social housing is enough for Maori. What it should be is a start because, as we know, there are more of us on the housing register, and that register does not necessarily capture the various types of homelessness; the people who are living in overcrowded situations, they are still homeless.”