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Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust Completes 1st Home Repair, Calls For Increased Govt Support In Social Housing Initiatives

A Karakia to bless the home of John and Lavinia Waihape / Supplied

Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust are proud to announce the successful completion of the first home repair under its home repair program, marking a significant milestone in their ongoing efforts to address housing challenges within the community. Following a Karakia, The Trust ceremoniously handed over the keys to the first whanau who have had their home repaired, symbolising hope and progress for families affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The Trust has undertaken a commitment to repair at least 18 homes impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, ensuring that these homes are warm, safe, and healthy. Partnering with three Māori building companies, the repairs are being conducted 'like for like' and are slated for completion over the coming months.

Leon Symes, Chairman of Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa, expressed his satisfaction with the completion of the first home repair, stating, "It's heartening to witness the first whanau move back into their repaired home after 15 months of displacement. However, much more needs to be done to address the housing crisis in Wairoa, particularly in light of the hundreds still displaced due to Cyclone Gabrielle."

Symes emphasised the urgent need for new housing in Wairoa, citing issues of aging housing stock, overcrowding, and the exacerbating impact of Cyclone Gabrielle. He is calling upon the government to prioritise Wairoa in its social housing initiatives, especially with the recent announcement of $140 million in new funding for 1,500 social housing units in the Budget 2024.

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The Trust has received resource consent to build 12 social housing homes, but construction won’t commence until they receive government funding approval.

“We need the government to support the work we are doing to try and provide warm, dry homes for our whanau in need. We have too many families who have been living in temporary housing or overcrowded housing because they have nowhere to go.”

Symes says Cyclone Gabrielle has increased the urgency, complexity, and costs of planned housing projects, including challenges getting people and supplies into Wairoa. He says Wairoa immediately needs 150 new homes, and 500 new homes over the next ten years to support growth.

“Our message to Chris Bishop is that even before Cyclone Gabrielle, Wairoa had an escalating housing crisis, punctuated by older, poor-quality housing and increasing unaffordability — which was holding back Wairoa’s prospects for growth, and affecting the health and wellbeing of many Wairoa people.”

Symes says more than 70% of homes damaged by flooding were occupied by Māori, and more than 60% of those were rentals.

“Investment in housing not only addresses immediate shelter needs but also stimulates school attendance, economic growth and job creation within the community. You only have to look at our current home repairs programme as an example of providing pathways to trades for rangatahi and whānau, fostering skill development and employment opportunities.”

Symes reiterated the Trust's commitment to addressing the housing crisis in Wairoa, emphasising the need for collaborative efforts between government agencies, community organisations, and stakeholders to effect meaningful change and ensure a brighter future for all residents.

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