Multiply-owned Māori land accounts for between 4% and 6% of land in New Zealand. Not all of this land is in remote rural locations – it includes quite a lot of very desirable land close to major centres.
In selecting this topic for a performance audit, I was aware of the desire for better housing, the consequences of poor housing, and the cultural significance of land. Throughout the audit, people we met reinforced to us the primary importance of land to cultural and social identity and its status as a taonga tuku iho to be safeguarded for future generations. In their words:
... it feels awesome to be on my land. The land of my ancestors. I know I can contribute something back to the marae and my children have a home to come back to …
Prosperity for Māori is defined as a place of warmth and belonging, where a man can raise his children as free and proud indigenous people in a healthy environment. For the land and culture is not ours to sell, pollute, or desecrate. It is our children's inheritance and our future generations' …
We want a place to live, we have land, and we want to be connected to the marae.
I thank all the people who so generously welcomed my auditors and shared with them their experiences in dealing with the various government agencies and the barriers they saw in the system.
As could be expected, owners of Māori land want to use their land to build high-quality, healthy houses and strengthen their communities. Yet, despite such aspirations, most Māori who wish to build on Māori land do not fulfil that goal. This is disappointing for Māori and for government agencies.
My staff examined the effectiveness of government support for Māori seeking to build housing on their land. We examined the work of a broad range of public entities, including how they work to provide Māori with effective information and advice and how easy it is for Māori to secure the approvals and funding they need.
This report lists the various initiatives to support Māori housing during the last 80 years. We audited the three current initiatives: Kāinga Whenua loans, the Māori Demonstration Partnership fund, and Special Housing Action Zones.
We carried out a performance audit of government support for, and regulation of, affordable housing on Māori land because:
- Māori as a group experience disproportionately poorer housing situations compared with the rest of the population;
- some Māori landowners have aspirations to build on their land;
- Māori land can provide affordable housing, particularly near some urban areas;
- there is a long history of government assistance with mixed success;
- support for Māori housing is complex and involves multiple agencies working together; and
- we could provide a cross-sector perspective on how to improve effectiveness.