Treaty settlement enables iwi housing development

An imminent treaty settlement has enabled a partnership of thirteen iwi to launch a low cost housing development in Auckland.

NZ Herald Editorial: Iwi housing plan shows what Treaty really means

The scheme, reported in the Herald yesterday, is a reminder on the eve of Waitangi Day that the spirit of the Treaty often moves in creative ways.

The 16ha site on the Manukau, formerly a farm next to the Weymouth children’s home, will contain 282 units, of which 127 will be sold on the open market and up to 99 will be tenanted on shared equity or rent-to-buy arrangements. The rest will be low rent tenancies, administered by several independent charities rather than Housing NZ.

The units will be built to several different designs, all double-storeyed and on much less land than the state houses of areas such as Otara and Glen Innes where permanent tenants, who regard the houses as their own, have been waging a long resistance to more intensive redevelopment.

In developments such as Waimahia – Weymouth’s Maori name – the abolition of permanent tenancy will have immediate effects. One of these effects may be to ensure that renters look to take advantage of the shared equity and rent-to-buy offers as soon as they can.

If it works to plan, there will be a constant turnover of rentals, enabling people in the most desperate need to be given adequate housing quickly, and encouraging them in turn to move to at least partial ownership as soon as they can.

The site is Auckland Council’s first designated “special housing area” for fast-track resource consents. Earthworks have started. The first units are expected to be built by August or September. It could be a model for affordable housing schemes elsewhere. On the eve of the Treaty commemoration, it is already a fine example of what it means.

Sounds like a worthwhile investment of a treaty settlement. It should benefit the iwi involved – property is usually a sound investment – and it will assist people into homes of their own.