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Wellington's deputy mayor works on housing solutions for whānau

By Eruera Rerekura – | @erurerekura

Published: 5:17PM Wednesday October 26, 2016

  •  (Source: Te Karere)
    Wellington Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle - Source: Te Karere

Wellington's new deputy mayor Paul Eagle (Tainui) hasn't wasted time in his new role taking control of the Housing portfolio for the Greater Wellington Region.

Mr Eagle says he's looking at how papakāinga housing, urban marae and rent-to-own schemes can work for Māori families.

He told Te Karere that he's pleased that Wellington mayor Justin Lester has given him the challenge of coming up with housing strategies for the capital.  

"What we've done is we've brought together the full housing spectrum - everything and anything to do with housing - that's now my part of my new housing portfolio," Mr Eagle said.

And Mr Lester told Te Karere that Mr Eagle is the right man for the job.

"Paul's been a tremendous leader on council for six years now. We came in in 2010 together so we've had that shared experience and I know he's hugely passionate about the housing area," he said.

The Advisory Trustee for Te Aro Pā Trust, Holden Hohaia, endorsed Mr Lester's support for Paul Eagle taking on the housing portfolio.

"Kei te āhua harikoa ahau i tēnei wā, i te mea kua whakaingoatia a Paora hei mea tuarua, katahi. Ka rua kua tukuna ki a ia tērā kōpaki nui whakahirahira rawa atu, arā, ko te whare noho," hei tāna.

During the pōwhiri (welcome) for the inauguration ceremony for Wellington's city councillors at Pipitea Marae, Taranaki whānui and Ngāti Toa Rangatira elders challenged the Wellington City Council to find housing solutions for Māori families.

"Our response to that is we're taking this seriously. We know that Māori are over represented in our homelessness stats, I mean they aren't stats these are real people - these are our whānau, and we're needing to look at new solutions to make sure that they've got a roof over their heads," Mr Eagle said.

"We know that in New Zealand this is a major issue and we want to make sure that Wellington doesn't become another Auckland that we get ahead of the curve and start building more houses because that's what we need to do," Mr Lester said.

At the beginning of the year a papakāinga housing development was built for the descendants of Ngāti Ruanui and Taranaki iwi in Wellington's Evans Bay – a project led by Te Aro Pā Trust.

Mr Eagle said he was pleased that all of the houses in the Te Aro Pā papakainga had all been tenanted.

"It looks fantastic, it's for their whānau, it's the iwi responding to their needs. We've got other urban marae like Tapu Te Ranga who have come to us and said, hey in terms of papakāinga housing is this something we can build on our land? And I think if we get the right people into the council room and say, look in terms of land, in terms of partners wanting to contribute - we'll get the recipe right."

Holden Hohaia said his organisation was open to having conversations with the council about developing more papakāinga – especially in the suburb of Mount Cook.

"Mehemea ka tāea e rātou te kaunihera, Paora mā te kite mai ētahi poraka whenua e tika ana hei hanga whare ki runga , e hiahia ana mātou o Te Aro kia hangaia ētahi whare anō rite ki tērā ki te papakāinga o Te Aro," hei tā Hohaia.

Paul Eagle said he was also thinking about strategies to accommodate Māori tertiary students coming to Wellington who might not be able to afford to live in the university halls of residence.