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New Doco on Māori Television Examines Social Housing



New Doco on Māori Television Examines Social Housing Initiatives

A new documentary to air on Māori Television in the lead-up to the election will address the reality of low income housing in this country in a climate of state gentrification and privatisation.
WHARE TAPA WHĀ, (loosely translated as these four walls), will screen on Monday, September 15 at 9.30pm.

The film explores what is happening to state housing in New Zealand through the eyes of two Māori women who are involved in opposing housing projects.

Betty Kanuta is battling to save the state houses that are being ripped out of her neighbourhood in Glen Innes while architect and spatial design planner Fleur Palmer is taking these houses to build a new community in Kaitaia with He Korowai Trust.

Palmer's project is being propped up through the government's privatisation interests, while Kanuta’s neighbourhood, born out of early social housing initiatives, is being asked to move out.

Produced by Richard Riddiford and directed by award-winning filmmaker Briar March, WHARE TAPA WHĀ brings together a range of different perspectives to provide a balanced view of the issues.

Throughout the one-hour documentary, we see families who have to leave their homes as well as the protests that happened every week as their houses were trucked to the North.

WHARE TAPA WHĀ also includes exclusive footage of what happened the night Hone Harawira was arrested during a protest over the removal of state houses in Glen Innes.

Developers such as Creating Communities, Housing New Zealand’s preferred partner in the redevelopment of Glen Innes, and He Korowai Trust, which is responsible for the creation of the new housing development in the far North, are also given the opportunity to express their views.

“Housing is a serious problem and a real election issue,” says March.

“We wanted to make an informative film to let people know what is happening so they can make up their own minds about how social housing should be managed.

“There are some new ideas about social housing that are really interesting but can we make them work?”

Tune in to WHARE TAPA WHĀ on Monday, September 15 at 9.30pm for the full story.



Glen Innes was a planned suburb built by the Labour Government after WWII as a way to provide affordable state housing for the returned servicemen.

Not unlike the He Korowai's Trust's plans for the Far North, in the post-war era Glen Innes represented the Government's egalitarian ideals for housing in New Zealand, and became a showcase for what could be achieved in this country.

Since the 1980s however the fortunes of Glen Innes have dwindled and the suburb has become synonymous in the media with a dysfunctional marginalised community.

Sitting right alongside two of the wealthiest suburbs in New Zealand and positioned next to sea views of the Tamaki Harbour, Glen Innes is now the prime candidate for Housing New Zealand to sell off some of the land to developers in order to pay for the building of new state houses.

In the Far North, many families live in makeshift housing such as Skyline garages, buses, lean-tos, cowsheds and during winter they leave their overcrowded homes and re-occupy condemned houses.

Eighty-seven per cent of the community is on some form of benefit, 34 per cent are single parents and the average yearly income is $22,000.

It is also extremely difficult for any Māori family to get a mortgage from a bank as there are usually so many title holders to the land.

Housing New Zealand has sold land (156 state houses) to private developers (Creating Communities) who plan to build 260 new houses.

Seventy-eight of these are to be state houses and will be sold back to Housing New Zealand, 39 are to be ‘market-based affordable’ houses and the rest of for private sale by the developers.

The trust is buying decommissioned state houses from Glen Innes, for a new settlement called Whare Ora in Kaitaia.

Families in need of housing will be able to buy the homes on a freehold license - while the trust will own the land and support the families with budgeting and other social services.

These Māori families will live in a communal settlement that is close to a main town centre where there are job opportunities and schools.

Houses will sell for $130,000 and families will make weekly payments of $220 (including an accommodation supplement of $70) for the next 15 years.

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