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Māori Council moves to educate whānau on rights as tenants amid 'heartbreaking' stories of discrimination

The New Zealand Māori Council has launched a new resource focused on educating whānau on rights as tenants and what the responsibilities of landlords are. 

The council's executive director, Matthew Tukaki, launched the resource in Invercargill yesterday, saying the stories of Māori being discriminated against in the rental market are often heartbreaking.

"Many of our people rent or attempt to get into the rental market and yet often they don’t know what their rights are. I have had dozens of people and whānau also come to me with stories they were denied housing for what they believe was bias," Mr Tukaki said. 

"The first thing we needed to do as a council was act to ensure our people know their rights so this first resource is about what landlords can and cannot do," he said. 

Mr Tukaki said he will also shortly release a new resource targeted at ensuring landlords and property managers "know that by denying people a rental based on race has no place in today's New Zealand".

"Aside from that we also need to understand what our obligations are from how many people are allowed to be located within a single tenancy, are you allowed a dog or pets? What does short term versus long term lease mean and so on. The other thing we need to confront are the adhoc rental rises and so on." Mr Tukaki said. 

He said: "The reality is that the rental market can be brutal but the truth is all of us should have access to a safe and secure home."

Mr Tukaki said over the coming months the council will be working through its National Taskforce on Housing and Housing Affordability to also look at some big questions such as affordable rentals for Māori in urban and provincial areas, affordable housing for Māori as first home buyers, and affordability and security in housing for Māori in retirement.  

The council will also work on how it might identify solutions to these issues, Mr Tukaki said.

Front view of suburban house and driveway in Auckland New Zealand
House in New Zealand (file picture). Source: istock.com