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Māori Housing Policy Scorecard

In the lead up to the 2020 general election, Te Matapihi have taken an in-depth look at each of the different political parties housing policies, with a focus on what these all mean for Māori. So, what works, what doesn’t, and what’s likely to make a difference for Māori? Te Matapihi provides our scorecard comparison.

To recap, in the series we’ve looked at:

Introduction

In our introductory article, we provided a summary of the current housing issues affecting Māori, and set the foundation for our election year analysis.

Māori Party

The Māori Party policy has a strong focus on anti-immigration policies to reduce demand. Unfortunately, this policy misses the market and is contrary to evidence. The policy does have some good aspects, centring Te Tiriti in Resource Management Act reform and providing much-needed investment into the development of housing on whenua Māori.

Green Party

The Green Party policy is very comprehensive, centring Te Tiriti and championing housing as a human right, supporting a holistic community development approach to development, and promoting the decommodification of land and housing. The policy also pledges to eliminate the social housing waitlist, improve conditions for renters and provide for alternative housing options (including papakāinga and cohousing).

Labour

Labour’s policy largely builds on the success of the COVID-19 health and economic response, and focusses on extending existing policies. The policy has a few new components, including regulating property managers, and including support for Māori housing outcomes through collaborative partnerships, home-ownership models and papakāinga provisions. The policy is also strong on housing and health interventions.

New Zealand First

New Zealand First’s policy has a specific focus on seniors / kaumātua, including by supporting local councils to provide elderly persons housing. The policy also includes support for innovative housing solutions on whenua Māori, and the re-introduction of universal family benefit capitalisation to support families into home ownership (with many Māori whānau benefiting from this policy historically).

National

National’s policy is explicitly pro-landlord, including repealing legislation introduced by Labour such as changes to the bright line test and tax reforms relating to the ringfencing of rental losses. The policy also proposes to reinstate public housing tenacy reviews and introduce punitive measures to manage state house tenants. The policy includes some positive regulatory reforms to improve the planning and building consenting processes.

As other commentators have noted, housing has been a surprisingly low policy priority this election, across all parts of the political spectrum.

Scorecard comparison

Given that each of the parties have differing policy focuses and levels of detail, for consistency we started with a brief high-level summary; a table summarising the policies under the sub-headings of availability, affordability, quality and security, and we indicated whether the policy is a supply or demand side solution, and what type of government intervention is being proposed (such as regulation, subsidies or taxation); followed by indepth analysis of 3 policies. In completing our analysis we set out to answer two questions – will it work, and will it make a difference for Māori?

For the scorecard comparison, we developed a set of eight priorities:

1. Papakāinga and housing on whenua Māori

A priority for whānau and hapū Māori. The barriers to developing whenua Māori for housing are well-understood and deeply entrenched, with access to finance remaining a peristent issue. A major policy priority for the Māori Party and the Greens, and one that has been touched on by both Labour and NZ First.

2. Access to social housing and secure tenancies

With Māori making up 37% of current state housing tenants and around 50% of those on the housing waiting list, this issue is of key concern to Māori. All parties saw this as a priority, with the possible exception of National who sought to introduce punitive measure for and reduce security for existing public housing tenants.

3. Eliminating homelessness

With Māori making up 32% of those experiencing severe housing deprivation (higher amongst younger Māori under 24 years of age), homelessness remains a critical concern. Labour, National and the Greens have specific policies geared towards eliminating homelessness, although only the Greens policy includes kaupapa Māori approaches.

4. Housing quality and health

40.3% of Māori live in damp homes, and 1 in 3 Māori (33%) live in dwellings with mould. Additionally, rheumatic fever rates are higher amongst Māori, with the initial hospitalisation rate for acute rheumatic fever among Māori more than 3 times higher as that for non-Māori. All parties have haincluded policies on housing quality and health.

5. Rental affordability and access

Māori are more likely than non-Māori to be renters, with 53.3% of Māori living in rental housing. The Greens and NZ First have policies specifically targeting the availability and affordability of rental housing.

6. Home ownership availability and affordability

Māori have declining home ownership rates, with only 28.2% (as opposed to 49.8% for the overall NZ population) of Māori owning their own home in 2013. All parties have policies explicitly geared towards affordable home ownership.

7. Decommodification of housing and land

There has been limited political appetite for significant market intervention towards the decommodification of land and housing despite the strong rationale for doing so (for more in-depth analysis, refer to this recent paper published by the Public policy Institute at the University of Auckland). The issue is largely an economic one, with New Zealanders long incentivised to over-invest in residential property. National’s policy are explicitly pro-landlord and pro-property investment, with the Greens, NZ First and the Māori Party all championing policies towards greater market intervention towards the decommodification of land and housing.

8. Te Tiriti provisions in urban planning reform

All parties are calling for repeal and replacement or reform of the Resource Management Act. The RMA was a groundbreaking piece of legislation for the recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi within the legislation, therefore any changes to the act will be of concern to hapū and iwi Māori. Labour, the Greens and the Māori party have included specific policies emphasising the importance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in any resource management and planning system reform programme.

Table 1. Scorecard comparison of 2020 election housing policies

The Greens’ policies have rated highly in our comparison, with Labour, NZ First, and the Māori Party also doing well. National lost points due to negative impact of several of their policies.

There are some limitations – the scorecard relies on the policies that parties have campaigned on, and reflects the pro-Māori bias of our analysis. It is a crude measure of the effectiveness of the policy interventions (for more nuance, see our long-form analysis) but gives a sense of the policy priorities of each party, as well as the relative weighting given to each issue. A half score indicates a policy that only partially addresses the focus area, and a negative score indicates a policy will have a negative impact for Māori in that particular policy area. We have also not examined the housing policy of other minor parties (including ACT, as well as new parties who are yet to secure a place in parliament).

In an MMP environment, it’s unlikely that either of the major parties will be in a position to govern alone. At the end of the day, each of the parties have their strengths and weaknesses – and regardless of the scorecard result, all have championed policies that will make a difference for Māori. Whether you want to change the government, or keep the current government, the best way to ensure Māori outcomes are protected is to ensure minor parties with a strong commitment to Māori and Treaty issues are adequately representation under MMP. So get out and vote this election e whānau mā, and make it an informed vote.

This is the final article in Te Matapihi’s Māori housing election-year series. Each of the previous articles has analysed the main parties’ housing policies, under the sub-headings of availability, affordability, quality and security, with a focus on what these all mean for Māori.

***

Jade Kake (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Whakatōhea) is an architectural / urban designer, researcher and housing advocate. Jade’s research interests include decolonisation, the re-establishment of papakāinga / kāinga (villages), indigenising urban spaces through kaupapa Māori urban design, and mobilising effective responses to Māori housing and homelessness issues. Jade has experience as a volunteer technical kaimahi for Whangārei hapū (Indigenous subtribes) on sovereignty and Treaty settlement matters, and as a systems advocate for Māori housing at a National level.

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