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An iwi-led housing initiative here has been hailed a “spectacular” success with plans to deliver 131 relocatable houses to Tairawhiti in coming months.

This morning saw the blessing of the first of those houses, which will be brought to Tairawhiti by a Te Aitanga a Mahaki initiative, funded by the government.

Project kaitakawaenga Annette Wehi said the programme would work on a “rent-to-own” basis and provide healthy and affordable houses.

“We went around everyone in Gisborne to see if anyone could build, and of course there’s a 12 to 18-month waiting list because of Covid and just the whole situation.

‘We looked at bringing in cabins but that won’t work for a whole family, so we looked at second-hand relocatable homes.

“Toi Tu Tairawhiti housing is working with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development at the moment and Te Puni Kokiri.”

The project would see a combination of essential repairs carried out to existing homes as well as bring both second-hand and new relocatable houses here.

The project, worth “millions”, would be funded through a government grant but because the scheme was rent to buy, the money would continue to fund other whanau.

Associate Housing Minister Peeni Henare said this morning’s ceremony had put a “spectacular” face to those communities making a difference in the housing sector.

“This is something that gives us an opportunity to do more because there are places like Kaiti all around the country and we know we have a mountain to climb.”

The project also reflected growing partnership between government and iwi.

“When we came into government we started working on the Te Maihi o te Whare Maori — the Maori and Iwi Housing Innovation (MAIHI) Framework, which puts Maori and community at the centre of our housing strategy moving forward.

“The Budget gave us resources to execute much of that aspiration and we see much of that here today.

“On a broader scale, we have to build ourselves out of the housing crisis. The reality is we are going to have to build ourselves out of this particular challenge. What’s happening here in this part of Turanganui-a-Kiwi is no different to in other parts of Aotearoa. So, we know we’ve got to do it and we can’t do it on our own, we have to do it with community and Te Aitanga a Mahaki and the collective of hapu and iwi gathered here show that if we empower them, they can get it done.”

MAIHI Framework for Action sets a precedent for working in partnership with Maori. It requires Te Tuapapa Kura Kainga to work collaboratively across government to support a cohesive and coordinated approach to delivering housing solutions with iwi and Maori.

The programme provides a no wrong door approach for iwi and ropu Maori looking to increase housing supply that attends to whanau needs, prevents homelessness and improves Maori housing security.

Further coverage in tomorrow’s Gisborne Herald.

First of many: Associate Housing Minister Peeni Henare puts the finishing touches to a new relocatable home in Gisborne today, part of a Te Aitanga a Mahaki initiative, funded by the government. Picture by Liam Clayton