Member Profile: Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou encouraging home ownership for iwi

Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou (TRONPnui) deliver a range of housing services on the East Coast of the North Island from Gisborne to Potaka. They are the only registered community housing provider in the area so demand is great. Working in the housing sector for over 20 years, Senior Manager, Anne Huriwai, says their vision has always been for Ngāti Porou whānau to have access to decent and affordable housing appropriate to their needs.

Their housing services include tenancy advice, social and emergency housing, home ownership workshops, advice and support.

The Gisborne region has some very real housing issues. Dr Kate Amore’s research on housing deprivation show’s that Gisborne has one of the highest rates of housing deprivation in the country (Amore, 2016; p18)[1]. Statistics NZ figures show the Gisborne region currently has the highest percentage of households in New Zealand who do not own their home at 40.8 % and only 28% of Māori own their own home in the region. [2]

TRONPnui have built seven new homes for social housing through the previous Housing Innovation Fund and working closely with marae in their area they want to build on the communally owned land so that the homes will be there for future generations. However, finding finance has proven difficult and ten marae are currently waiting for new homes to be built.

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Bella Paenga and her whanau bought their HNZ home in Tiki Tiki a year ago, “it’s a safe place to call home and not many homes come up for sale here,” Bella says.

Homeownership is a kaupapa TRONPnui strongly supports and they have helped around 300 low income whanau into their own home— and there’s a high demand for this assistance from many other tenants to help them achieve home ownership.

In the last couple of years they’ve helped around 10 tenants purchase the homes they were renting from Housing New Zealand (HNZ) and they plan to help more this year. Most HNZ properties within Ngāti Porou are covered by right of first refusal (RFR) provisions under the Ngāti Porou Settlement Act. Therefore, any tenants within Ngāti Porou who want to purchase their Housing NZ properties require a waiver from TRONPnui. The rūnanga provides waivers to Ngāti Porou whānui, subject to certain conditions.

Anne Huriwai, says a big part of what they do is home ownership education. High debt and affordability issues have meant home ownership is difficult for many families and they’ve been trying to get government to change policies around debt. Anne says that through the Low Deposit Rural Lending scheme once bad debt had been paid off the slate was wiped clean enabling potential borrowers to borrow immediately. But now ‘normal’ lending criteria applies putting homeownership out of reach for many whanau. Because of their work in this area TRONPnui have successfully intervened to prevent 30 potential mortgagee sales.

Bella Paenga bought her HNZ house in Tiki Tiki after a long, five year process. Getting finance was the difficult part. She says having Kiwisaver and a subsidy from HNZ helped but, because of limited income, the banks wouldn’t lend the remainder. “I would still be renting if it wasn’t for Hine encouraging me to keep going,” Bella says. Finance was eventually gained through the credit union and Bella is glad they kept going with the process “it’s given us a safe place that’s ours that we can call home. We’re in a stronger position for the future now we aren’t paying rent and we have an asset for our children and grandchildren.”

TRONPnui recently contracted with MSD to provide support services for people in emergency housing and are exploring options with HNZ to help meet the growing social housing demand in Gisborne. Home maintenance is another high need and while there are grants to help with this,TRONPnui are careful not to raise expectation as the pūtea available through the Maori Housing fund is limited. Because of this they target funds to those most in need, such as pakeke (elderly) and whanau/families where the children have respiratory issues or other long term conditions.

TRONPnui’s Housing Coordinator, Hine Manuel, has extensive experience in housing. Hine supports and advises people needing housing assistance, supporting people find rental properties and running regular workshops to help prospective home owners find out what is involved in purchasing their own home. She helps with valuations, lawyers, license to occupy, insurance, finance and negotiations with Housing New Zealand if tenants are purchasing their HNZ owned home.

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For Kararaina Lawson of Gisborne having her own home means security and no longer having to deal with HNZ

Kararaina Lawson from Gisborne purchased her HNZ property after being a tenant for seven years. It was a long and stressful process negotiating with HNZ. “They tried to sell me the house without any chattels – no bath, carpet, taps, oven …” It wasn’t until an HNZ assessor came from out of the area and revalued the property, which had a lot of maintenance issues, that she was offered a fair price. Kararaina says people need to be aware that there’s additional lawyer and valuation costs that can be very expensive, especially with some of the HNZ processes requiring new valuations every few months. “In the end they didn’t do any of the maintenance I’d asked for as a tenant, and I’m slowly getting it done as I can afford it. But I’m really happy I made the decision to buy – it means security for me and my kids and no more four monthly house inspections.”

Another previous HNZ tenant and now home owner, is Christine. She was one of the first people to go through the process of buying her HNZ home with support from Hine. “At the beginning Housing New Zealand told me the house wasn’t available as it had been offered to the rūnanga, that’s when I came into contact with Hine. She helped me get the waiver from Ngāti Porou so I could buy the house.”

That took her about a year and then it was another four years getting through the process of buying the property off HNZ. The purchase price kept increasing as a new valuation would be needed every three months while HNZ deliberated. “If they had sorted it at the beginning it would have cost me $20,000 less. But because it took five years it eventually cost me a lot more plus multiple bills for valuations and legal fees.

I would never have got through this without Hine, though. She helped me deal with the lawyers, the banks and HNZ. I nearly gave up – five price changes along the way – but this is our family home. I’ve lived here for 22 years and Mum and Dad were in the house for 20 years before that. Now I think yay – at last we have a house where they aren’t threatening to kick me out every year.”

You can contact Hine Manuel at Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou on 0800 833 502 or email: hmanuel@tronp.org.nzif you are a Housing New Zealand tenant interested in purchasing your Housing New Zealand home or would like to enquire further about their housing services.

Download the article here:

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[1] Amore K. (2016). Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa/New Zealand: 2001-2013. He Kainga Oranga/Housing & Health Research Programme, University of Otago, Wellington.

[2] Statistics New Zealand (2016). Changes in home-ownership patterns 1986–2013: Focus on Māori and Pacific people. Available from www.stats.govt.nz; p.7

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