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Researchers combine expertise to champion rangatahi innovation in housing

A dedicated team of researchers are combining their identity and expertise to champion the intelligence and innovation of an entire generation in the housing sector.

4 August 2022

Ngā Wai a Te Tūī, Unitec’s Kaupapa Māori and Indigenous Research Centre, has launched a research project that will investigate potential kāinga innovations to support intergenerational Māori housing aspirations. He tātai whetu ki te rangi, he rangatahi ki te kāinga project will investigate pathways to safe, secure and affordable homes for rangatahi Māori in Tāmaki Makaurau.

The four-year research project is led and delivered by rangatahi for rangatahi. The project team includes Maia Ratana (Te Arawa, Ngā Rauru kii Tahi and Ngāti Raukawa), Jacqueline Paul (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), Pania Newton (Ngāpuhi, Waikato, Te Rarawa), Hanna-Marie Monga (Ngāti Whatua, Te Uri o Hau and Cook Islands), Grace Walker (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāruahine) and is supported by Ngā Wai a Te Tūī Director Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan (Waikato-Tainui).  The research team share a dedicated passion and commitment to improve housing for Māori and curb the impact of the housing crisis on rangatahi.

Jenny-Lee says: “There is a dire need for innovative solutions to deliver safe, secure and affordable housing through socially cohesive processes that support the development of stronger and resilient Māori communities. The increasing housing prices, high cost of living and shortage of houses in Tāmaki Makaurau impacts rangatahi Māori aspirations to obtain affordable, safe and secure housing.”

Architecture lecturer Maia Ratana says rangatahi perspectives are often overlooked and current policy and government initiatives don’t allow rangatahi Māori many choices. Maia is also leading by example in designing and building a tiny home for her family in Te Tai Tokerau.

“Home ownership is being pushed further out of reach, private rental costs are continuing to rise and unless something drastic is done to change the situation the future looks ominous for rangatahi.”

Jacqueline Paul is also an Architecture lecturer who has dedicated her career to addressing housing deprivation for Māori. She holds a four-year Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree (Unitec), a Master of Philosophy in Planning Growth and Regeneration (University of Cambridge), and is now set to begin her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“This project will demonstrate the housing realities for rangatahi Māori and play a critical role in better understanding whānau centered housing,” says Jacqueline. ‘Furthermore, it will aim to understand the diverse needs of whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau and will hope to contribute to developing new pathways to support Māori housing outcomes”.

Pania Newton is playing a key role in the development of Papakāinga for her whānau and iwi. In 2019 she led a peaceful protest to prevent the development of housing on sacred whenua at Ihumātao and says we are seeing “an awe-inspiring interest and resurgence of Papakāinga housing.”

Hanna-Marie Monga studied Architecture at Unitec Institute of Technology and received her Masters of Architecture. She is using her expertise working as an architectural graduate at MAU Studio, an architectural design practice that focuses on South Auckland Communities. Her passion is housing Pasifika and Maori whanau in culturally appropriate designed spaces. Her knowledge of architecture will contribute to the research, focusing on Pasifika and Maori housing perspectives and intergenerational living in urban environments.

“Home ownership can provide a pathway to independence, security and success. How can rangatahi achieve home ownership with Tāmaki housing prices being further out of reach and unattainable?” she says.

Each of the researchers involved are living and breathing their passion to actively address an issue that has had a devastating impact on Māori wellbeing. Rangatahi ki te Kāinga will compile knowledge gained from personal experience and expert evidence to continue building a repository of knowledge and support in housing for rangatahi Māori.

The team plans to release an online series and podcast early next year to share the solutions identified and demonstrate the positive impact.