Māori renters' future looking a bit brighter in Pōneke

By Kawe Roes

Wellington-based iwi Te Āti Awa and Taranaki Whānui have teamed up with Kahungunu Whānau Services and Housing First to tackle homelessness today at Waiwhetū Marae. 

Kura Moeahu is the chairperson for Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa.  He believes that Kahungunu Whānau Services is the right provider to push the Housing First programme.

"How can we work together instead of fighting between us for money?  We need to work together first and foremost,” he says.

"Many of Kahungunu have married into Te Āti Awa and its an expression of our whakapapa, our whānaungatanga, but at the end of the day iwi are responsible for air land and sea.  In terms of social issues that's everyone's issue," he says. 

"We could have gone ahead and started our own but why would we want to get into competition if we are looking at the betterment of Māori and the way Māori are moving today. I think we need to think differently and working more collaboratively together."

The initiative brings together local providers with different strengths and expertise to resolve homelessness.

Associate Minister of Housing Nanaia Mahuta says "For Kahungunu Whānau Services, they'll get 50 people to work with so they can get them a rental home.  Our focus is the community but things like this are about working together with Māori service providers and the government."

Ali Hamlin-Paenga, Kahungunu Whānau Services CEO says, "Housing First is solely about rentals of properties.  We will work with the industry to secure the rentals and then we will provide that buffer to enable them to get into the homes, work with them in some cases for rent-related, income-related rents and in all of those other complex issues we will support them ...  to assist them into housing."

There is no better time to kick off such an initiative that the Māori new year.