OPINION: Maihi Ka Ora – The Maori National Housing Strategy 2021-2051 was launched last week by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
It was written in partnership with Te Puni KÅkiri, with support from the National Iwi Chairs Forum, some hapÅ« and iwi, and Te Matapihi he tirohanga mÅ te Iwi Trust, and developed by Maihi Whare WÄnanga.
The strategy takes a systems thinking approach, recognizing the complexity of our housing system, the failings of our system and, therefore, the range of responses required.
It is long term, with a lifespan of 30 years destined to live well beyond any political change. Importantly, there are specific provisions for continuous monitoring and evaluation, and a formal review every three years.
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Long-term strategies cannot be fully tested given our electoral cycle, but the current government has made a serious attempt to integrate Maihi Ka Ora into the whole of government and the housing system in general.
In my opinion, this strategy is a game-changer. The strategy, while not a statutory document, critically refers to the articles, rather than the principles, of Te Tiriti.
It explicitly refers to the government using its levers under section 1, to enable Maori-led solutions under section two, and, if these are achieved, it strives to provide the ‘oriteranga / equity under article three.
The strategy has six main components: Maori-Crown partnerships, local solutions (Maori led), housing supply (Maori), housing assistance (Maori), housing system (Maori) and housing sustainability (Maori). All are anchored in Te Tiriti.
The Maihi Whare WÄnanga model represents a Te Tiriti-based partnership, with clearly named partners Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti, with labeled actions.
It also has a built-in process to respond, review, and reset. Basically: Respond to current issues through new funding, laws and policies; Examine existing government funding priorities, legislation and funding through the lens of Te Tiriti, with a focus on current Maori involvement in high-level government decision-making processes; and finally, Reset, implementing new legislation, new policy and new processes that are at the heart of a Te Tiriti partnership.
Many will remember He Whare Ähuru He Oranga TÄngata – the Maori housing strategy. The strategy was introduced in 2014 under the national government, with the Maori party as a trusted and sourcing partner.
Although initially planned to last until 2025, He Whare Ähuru has now been replaced by Maihi Ka Ora, the new Maori housing strategy.
It was not a perfect strategy, but it was a strategy that Maori housing advocates, ministerial champions, hapÅ«, iwi and housing providers fought for and contributed to.
The strategy, which was the responsibility of the Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment, did not have the appropriate resources. To my knowledge, no resources or staff time have been specifically allocated to its implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
In the 2014 document, priorities were set for 2014-2017, but were not updated beyond that date. For the new strategy to be successful, it is essential that dedicated resources and staff are allocated for implementation, monitoring and evaluation, review and updating.
Hei aha, we are now in a very different space. The current government has demonstrated its commitment to funding Maori housing on par with regular housing, as demonstrated by the May 2021 budget announcement.
Maihi Ka Ora appears determined to avoid the mistakes and omissions of the past, and clearly sets out the development of a detailed implementation program and monitoring framework, as well as a cycle for reviewing the strategy every three years.
What about GPS? The Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Housing and Urban Development, which was launched on the same day as Maihi Ka Ora, provides clear direction to all government agencies in the housing system.
It has its legislative basis under the KÄinga Ora – Homes and Communities Act 2019. GPS is designed as a comprehensive system strategy and is complemented by a series of other strategies including Maihi Ka Ora, the government’s policy statement on land transport, the Disability Strategy and Action Plan 2019-2023 and a better life later – He Oranga Kaumatua 2019 to 2034.
The recent master’s thesis by Jacqueline Paul (NgÄpuhi, Kahungunu, TÅ«wharetoa), Maori housing researcher and landscape designer, He Rautaki Whakatauria Whare o Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Treaty-anchored Housing Strategies (Department of Land Economy, The University of Cambridge, July 2021), focuses on Housing strategies anchored in Tiriti.
His research, based on interviews with experts, recommends that current government strategies and plans be strengthened to align with Te Tiriti.
At the time Paul’s research was undertaken, there was no national housing strategy. GPS fills this gap: it is well aligned with Maihi Ka Ora and is explicit in the guidelines for a true partnership under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
While the Maihi Ka Ora strategy rightly focuses on the Maori, given the responsibilities of government under Te Tiriti, demographic inequalities, as well as the persistent advocacy of the Maori housing sector, Paul’s research shows that we must also take a look Te Tiriti on all housing strategies and policies in Aotearoa.
Maihi KÄ Ora and the government’s housing and urban development policy statement both meet this expectation.
– Jade Kake is an architectural designer, writer and housing advocate based in WhangÄrei. Of Maori and Dutch origin, his tribal affiliations are NgÄpuhi, Te WhakatÅhea and Te Arawa.