Mana unveils housing policy

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2013
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Mana Party leader Hone Harawira wants to offer Maori first-time homebuyers no-deposit, low-interest loans but admits he doesn't know how much the programme would cost.

Mana yesterday unveiled its policy of building 10,000 state houses a year and offering the loans.

The scheme would be similar to the former Maori Affairs Housing Scheme, which was dropped in 1989. Only Maori first-time homeowners would be eligible.

Mr Harawira says it would be run through Te Puni Kokiri, bypassing banks and using government capital.

Those eligible would be able to borrow up to $200,000 to either buy an existing house or build a new one. "Not something big and flash but something comfortable . . . that's the thing about Maori, we do have land."

The policy was not costed and Mr Harawira had not discussed parliamentary support with other parties. It is unlikely to get enough political support to become law.

"The issue isn't about cost, it's about priorities," Mr Harawira said. The Government was willing to help rich people who did not need it.

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the Mana policy would cost more than $3 billion a year and put New Zealand "seriously in the red".

Mr Harawira said he would use his criminal trial next month to make a political statement on housing.

He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to remove a motor vehicle and will be tried in the Auckland District Court. The charge followed his role in a state-housing protest in Glen Innes, Auckland, last year.

In Pomare, Lower Hutt, yesterday, Mr Harawira said it was "unethical and immoral" that people were being kicked out of state houses.

But he did not plan to be arrested again anytime soon, saying "one arrest in each electoral term is enough".

Na Raihania, the Maori Party's Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election candidate, said he was glad to see Mana adopting his party's policy.

A key plank of Maori Party policy was providing loans to people to build or move housing on to Maori land.

"No deposit is required for a loan below $200,000. [Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia] has been working hard to make sure our whanau can access this policy."

Mr Raihania said the Maori Party was working for Maori. "You have to be prepared to put the hard work in to turn ideas into practical policies."

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