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Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer calls for targeted Māori housing package

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is calling on the Government to introduce a targeted Māori housing package amid concerns Māori are being locked out of the housing market.

It comes in response to figures showing that homeownership is becoming increasingly unattainable for Māori, with home ownership rates falling among Māori since 1999. The latest Census data also found that Māori individual home ownership has fallen to 26 per cent, compared with 41 per cent for non-Māori.

“The housing crisis is hitting Māori communities harder than anyone, and yet the Government’s recently announced Housing Package doesn’t include any specific policies targeted at increasing Māori homeownership. This is unacceptable,” Ngarewa-Packer said today in a statement.

Ngarewa-Packer says Pākehā have a net worth nearly five times higher than that of Māori, while non-Māori have a 13 per cent higher median wage.

“This disparity in wealth and income is locking Māori out of the housing market."

She called it “disgraceful” that the Social Housing Register waiting list is made up of more than 11,000 Māori, or 49.6 per cent of the list.

In Parliament today, Housing Minister Megan Woods acknowledged that the Government does "have concerns" over Māori home ownership.

"That’s why our Government is actively responding to falling Māori home ownership," she said.

"We’ve made a start but there is much more work to do." 

Woods said the Labour-led Government has made a number of moves to address the issue since coming into power, including the establishment of a targeted Māori housing ministerial portfolio in November 2018; the creation of a Māori housing unit “specifically to attend to Māori housing issues” in July 2019; and a $3.8 billion Housing Acceleration Fund "making funding available for critical infrastructure on iwi and whenua Māori land". 

She also expressed confidence in the recently-announced housing package.  

“Now that we have secured the funding and made the arrangement, that we are now working with partners – and some of those partners are iwi and Māori organisations – to ensure that we can have the infrastructure package that unlocks the potential, not only of Māori-owned land but whenua Māori land for housing options as well.”

Ngarewa-Packer says Woods' answers in Parliament today “failed to show that they are on top of Māori housing needs and don’t have a dedicated and targeted plan to increase Māori homeownership”.

She's now calling on the Crown to “recognise the severe disadvantage” Māori face in the housing market and to “immediately introduce a Māori housing package that includes targeted financial support schemes to help with deposits”, rent controls.

Such moves would intersect with other crucial policies - such as lifting incomes for the country’s poorest whanau - by raising the minimum wage to $25 an hour and "significantly increasing baseline benefit levels".

Ngarewa-Packer says the Crown must also address housing supply issues through the building of thousands of social and affordable houses.

“For many of our whānau, finding an affordable home, let alone owning their own home, is currently completely unattainable.”