Marama Fox: Enough political talk, let's build houses! I'm throwing my hat in the ring ...

Last updated 00:15 08/10/2017

The Māori Party's Marama Fox has had enough of hui about the housing crisis – it's time for some dooey.

Api and Victoria Robin are building papakainga housing for their extended family, a scheme led by Marama Fox and her family.
Peter Robin, Victoria Robin, Horiana Robin, Api Robin and Mark Robin on the land on which they are building papakainga housing for their whole wider whanau.
Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox says the result of the special votes gives some direction to the negotiations with Winston Peters to form a government.

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OPINION: Te Puea Marae put out the invitation ahead of the election. When they opened their doors to the homeless this winter, they asked me to come and cook for the families who once again had found relief within their manaakitanga.  

There it was I met families who were gripped by shame and hopelessness, struggling to accept charity while desperately needing support. I love the whanau of Te Puea. They give without expectation. They volunteer to provide hope, respect and unconditional love.  

One of the families searching for relief consisted of five children under the age of 7. They were quietly tearful as they told their story. They were housed in a motel by Work and Income NZ, watching their ballooning debt pass the $10,000 mark. When they could no longer allow the debt to grow, with no hope of being housed anytime soon, they returned to their car – driving around the city each night looking for a safe haven to park for the evening.

Eventually they heard about the marae and arrived on their steps desperately seeking help.

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Now, here they were on the eve of moving into a home that would cater to their needs, having only been at the marae for a week-and-a-half. I was bewildered! Miffed and annoyed! How is it that Te Puea Marae can do what Work and Income and Housing NZ cannot?

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Te Puea holds many answers for the housing crisis and continues to be a beacon for New Zealanders to focus their desire to help. Kiwis have responded with an outpouring of donations to a marae that struggled at first to cope, such was the generosity of businesses, leaders and individuals who could not believe that this could happen here in Aotearoa.

The demolition of houses considered outdated and unsafe following the Christchurch earthquake, coupled with a ministry that seemed to move as slow as a fly stuck in molasses – lots of wing-flapping with no relief means the crisis continues. The government, like the death throes of a stuck blue-arse fly, made a lot of busy buzzing noises with little cohesive and substantial result.

Though there are some things now moving, it's all been too slow – too slow, too slow. Such suffering has ensued when, if they had done two things immediately, much would now be different. Treat people with dignity and respect. Start there. Let's hope the next government moves with greater haste.

Hold up, before you all start to cry foul, saying, "Marama you agreed to sell state houses".  Let me say I do not have a problem taking housing away from Housing NZ, who evict our whanau without attempting to work through solutions, and put those homes in the hands of Social Housing Providers who do a better job. Including iwi. However, the bigger issue is to build more homes that are energy-efficient, that use environmentally-sustainable technologies while still being affordable for our whanau.  

So, let's build houses!  I'm going to throw my hat in the ring to find solutions in regions for our whanau using the papakainga model.  Work with our land holdings in the hands of iwi and hapū to generate regional growth and development through improved infrastructure, providing homes and jobs at the same time.

Our whanau, like the Robins whanau of Kohupatiki in Clive, reduce costs by living together as adult families in the same home. The papakainga model being discussed with the Robins whanau will cater to their needs, may involve communal outdoor spaces or shared mara kai and such.

Aunty Vikki (I'm unofficially adopted) says: "Our children and their children and the generations to follow will always have their own homes on their own land amongst their own iwi which will be a life-long legacy."  

Each development will be unique to the requirements and aspirations of whanau involved.  Developed on Māori land with the goal of including rangatahi and whanau in the industry, earning qualifications and supporting ongoing business development.  

I want to help.  

Just quietly, I want to get my kids out of my house too so they can put down roots, have security of tenure, grow communities of change, be educated together in their local Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa and thrive as a nation together.  

Actually work to lift all boats with the rising tide instead of leaving behind a group of families and individuals who are burdened under homelessness and poverty in leaky boats swamped by the pounding tides of hardship.


Winston Peters will be trying for the greatest authority and control he can exert, after the announcement of the special votes count.

And that means the advances made in legislation for Māori over the last nine years are under threat.  

With Labour and the Greens taking two seats of National, there is now a change of a Labour-led government.

I am hopeful that the seven Māori seats will not be wasted in opposition. In opposition,  they can do nothing to temper attempts by New Zealand First to remove Treaty references from the law, scrap Whanau Ora, and remove Mana Whakahono-ā-rohe / Iwi and Local Government Resource Management Agreements and Kaitiakitanga provisions from the Resource Management Act.

This last reform had finally given Iwi voice in water management and recognised stewardship in the environment.  

One of my whanaunga Tina Ngata, an environmental activist, described it as a "hugely significant step to rangatiratanga".  

I sure as heck know that had Māori been involved in the management and allocation of water for the past 60 years, our rivers would not be in this state.  

Will our Māori Members of Parliament of all parties stand up for Māori rights and interests?

My greatest hope is that whichever way the Winnie crumbles, advancements for Te Ao Māori do not crumble as a result.

- Sunday Star Times


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