Beyond the Beehive: Housing

They’re living in cowsheds, buses, lean-tos, caravans, overcrowded situations, and sadly it’s getting worse. The government wants everyone to have a warm, dry, safe home. But that’s something that’s out of reach for so many people here in Kaitaia and across the Far North. The national Māori Housing
Network got $15 million in the coalition government’s
first budget and in August, the government hosted a Māori housing finance wānanga. But there’s no sign yet of the
dedicated Māori housing unit Labour promised before the election. We’re heading into town
to meet Ricky Houghton, who has helped home hundreds
of people in the region, whether in emergency housing
or a place of their own. His He Korowai Trust builds and runs the Whare Ora rent-to-buy
housing development on the outskirts of Kaitaia. He reckons the situation
in Northland is so bad he asked the
previous government twice to declare a state of emergency, which they wouldn’t do. The housing situation for Māori is at its lowest levels of all time in terms of the trend of home ownership. There’s no rental accommodation available. Do I think that the Labour
Party’s going to deliver? I’ve personally talked with the minister, he has offered the promise of help. I’m excited that I even
have that sort of dialogue from up here in Kaitaia. I’m grateful for it. What’s the significance of turning 50 acres of European land into 50 acres of Māori land? We’ve wanted to develop a Māori model that was quite different
to the other models that are out on the market there, so self-sustainability is at the front of everything
Whare Ora represents. We’re not selling houses,
we’re selling homes. Roselina Reihana lives in Whare Ora with her young family. Her road to secure
housing hasn’t been easy. As a young mother in Auckland, she got caught living with her partner while receiving a benefit and was sentenced to home detention. She used the time to start a home hairdressing business before making the huge
decision to move north. This is my room, where no magic happens. What’s your story? I guess I wasn’t really all together when I moved up north. I kind of came up here
to find solace for me and my kids. I went through a bit of
a rough time in Auckland and felt like I needed to
move closer to my roots. So you own this place? Not yet! Not yet, but in a few years? But I will, yeah. You’ve got a three-year
probation in the house, which is basically to help
you get all your debt sorted. You have a budgeter at the trust which helps you stay on track, and that’s just so that you
are able, financially able, to go forward and apply
for your own home loan. So the whole kaupapa
of this place was that we could all become self-sufficient. Which means dairy farm, so
we’ll have our own beef. We have got our own community garden. And there’s little projects
we’re going to be working on, like getting our own pigs for our scraps, chickens for eggs. It’s really just a community effort, so that we can all dig in and all kind of look after each other and try and cut the cost of living. If this is what we’re
do with a little support, just try and imagine what we
could do with a lot of support. What specific help
could the government give? This is my wish list. Give me your wish list. This is my wish list, okay then. I would like government
to support the trust by funding us over a longer period. I mean, you can’t get
funding beyond three years. So if you go out and buy a capital asset, a minimum of a 20-year mortgage, but you’re in three-year funding cycles, it’s very hard to commit given the investment
that you have to make. I will personally go out, I’ve done it, I’ve mortgaged my house
on more than two occasions to help provide what you see around you, but that will only do so much. It’s gonna take all of our efforts. There’s no silver bullet. As far as I’m concerned, the solution’s not gonna to
come from a hole in the wall in the middle of Kaitaia, they’re not going to come from Wellington, they have to come from us. Ricky isn’t the only one still clinging to the dream of home
ownership for his people. After years of steep price rises, the Auckland housing market is finally starting to level out and there’s massive demand for the government’s KiwiBuild scheme, with more than 40,000 people
registered and counting. But although about 8000 KiwiBuild homes have been announced in the region, only 18 of them have
actually been built so far. On our next stop, we’ll
meet a young family who have already secured their place on the great Kiwi property ladder. We are going to meet
Pranav and Monik Birla, who, a few months ago, astonishingly, managed to buy their first ever home. Now this home isn’t quite a home yet, right now it’s just a construction site, but they’ve got pretty big dreams. But Auckland’s overheated market nearly destroyed that dream. The problems we faced was, first of all, was lack of knowledge. We thought it was just, okay this house is in our budget, and, okay cool, we’ll go and have a look. But then we just lost out on maybe 10 or 12 deals, like actually putting
an offer and losing out. And then – Were many offers accepted and then you lost out? Yeah a few
of them were accepted. There was one accepted
out in Glen Eden actually. Everything was fine, bank approved it and then the last step was the builder who had to do the, give us the builders report. Turned out it was just
a massive, leaky house. It had 40 percent moisture, that was
just really disheartening. 40 percent moisture! It was crazy, man. It was just water seeping into walls there and we had already imagined where the furniture
will be and everything, it was just crazy. Do you feel like the government is doing enough to help people like you? KiwiBuild came two or
three months ago, but – We tried in Hobsonville, remember? – We did try in Hobsonville, yes. But even though it sounds
good and it’s affordable, there’s only 200, 300 houses which are gonna be allotted
for 20, 30,000 people, so there’s 19,000 people who miss out, so that’s another thing to watch out for. But then, also saying that it’s affordable when it’s a two-bedroom house for $600,000. I mean, that is absolutely not affordable. People can actually buy a
house for less than $600,000. For a young person who is
trying to get into the market, getting a debt of more than half a million dollars is ridiculous. But you must be stoked, you’ve got your little
slice of heaven now. Yeah.

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