EPISODE SUMMARY: On this episode of Indigenous Urbanism, we visit Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga to learn more about their emergency housing programmes, delivered through an innovative partnership with Emerge Aotearoa.
GUESTS: James Lyver, Jo Hoera, Chris Paku
Jade Kake: In the Hawke’s Bay, homelessness has dramatically increased over the past few years and there are large waiting lists for social housing. Like many areas throughout Aotearoa, there is simply not enough affordable housing to meet demand, and reports of overcrowding, and families living in cars have increased.
The kaupapa of Te Whare Huakina, funded by the Ministry of Social Development, is to provide emergency housing in the Hawke’s Bay area.
Jo Hoera: This is one of our typical transitional homes provided for whānau. So, we're just walking into the front of the property. It's got a wee space in the front, a grass area. And then we're going to go into the front door, and straight into the Kitchen area.
JH: Of course we have an oven, we have a pantry, a fridge, and we’ve got all the amenities that you need in the kitchen itself, so, we've got all the crockery that you need, whānau need. We've got all the utensils whānau need, we've got oven trays, we've got a toaster, we've got the jug, we've got pots, we've got pans. So when whānau come into the transitional home, the kitchen is all set to go for them. And so you’ve got a back door entrance as well, and in our back door entrance we've also got safety, so we've got a fence right round the property, this particular property, so that we can safely have children here. We've got some fruit trees, and of course the line outside. Then we have the amenities, got the toilet. We have a bathroom, so we have a shower. Most of the properties have a shower and a bath, because we allow for children, of course, and sometimes they're under one, or where they need a bath to be used. And in this particular house we've got two bedrooms, so the bedrooms are already set up with the beds. So we’ve got pretty much all the amenities that a whānau would need moving into a home. It's all set up with everything, including the washing machine, and we have everything that you would need, like mops and brooms. So, our tenancy manager would go through and make sure that all that's ticked off, the list that they need when they come into a home, including all your blankets, your linen, your towels, it’s all here. So the whānau are in here for 90 days, and they sign their tenancy for 30 days at a time, and so within that period our tenancy manager comes in and does inspections with the property, and renews the tenancy over that 90 day period.
JK: Tēnā koutou katoa
Nau mai haere mai ki te Indigenous Urbanism, Aotearoa Edition, Episode 16.
I’m your host Jade Kake and this is Indigenous Urbanism, stories about the spaces we inhabit, and the community drivers and practitioners who are shaping those environments and decolonising through design.
On this episode of Indigenous Urbanism we visit Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga to learn more about their emergency housing programmes, delivered through an innovative partnership with Emerge Aotearoa.
We met up with Jo Hoera and Chris Paku from Emerge Aotearoa, at one of Te Whare Huakina’s emergency houses in Napier. Jo is the Team Leader for the Emergency Housing Team within Emerge Aotearoa, and Chris is one of the the Navigators in her team.
JH: Ko Jo Hoera taku ingoa, ko Rangitane me Te Atihaunui-a-paparangi ōku iwi. I'm the Team Leader for Emerge Aotearoa, for the Emergency Housing team. Based in Hastings, and we work collaboratively with Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga.
Chris Paku: Ko Chris Paku tōku ingoa. I work for Emerge Aotearoa as well, as a Navigator, and part of my role is to help our whānau in our area to find sustainable housing.
JH: Te Whare Huakina came about through, I guess looking at the strength that both organisations have, and coming to an understanding that we both offer different strengths, and that's how we pretty much based ourselves together, but it works. It works really, really well. The team themselves, from Emerge Aotearoa's side, and our team, I can speak for our team, it's pretty awesome to be working inside of a kaupapa Māori service, and supporting whānau in our community to find long-term sustainable housing. We are one team, so we provide the emergency housing service together. So, it's pretty awesome actually. We're unique in the whole of the country, I believe we're the only service that runs that way, with two NGOs working side-by-side. My main role, I guess, is to make sure the service is running okay. The other thing is to, more importantly, is to support my Navigators that are out working out in the field. That might be in terms of making sure they've got the resources they need, training, whether they need upskilling or sending them away to our training, or running the mechanics at the base, really. So, yeah. But, I must say, I have an awesome team, that are out there working in the Hawke's Bay, they work fairly independently, and they are passionate for the kaupapa. And so am I. I've worked quite a while, a few years working with clients, and so I love to see them doing well, especially whānau.
CP: And as a Navigator for Emerge Aotearoa, that's a role that I take really seriously, and using a lot of my background and the experience that I've had over the last 10-15 years, to see how I can help our people that are in the motels, or in the transitional homes that we have, to help them to look for sustainable homes, a sustainable home. And part of that service that we have is, also helping them to identify other wrap-around services that we can introduce them to, if they haven't been introduced to in the past. For example, we have a ready-to-rent programme that runs at the taiwhenua and also in Napier, and we also have Money Mates, which is part of the Hawke's Bay budgeting service. So all these little factors really play an important part to our families lives. So, that's what I do as a Navigator here in Hawke's Bay, along with the other two Navigators, Kate and Manuel.
JK: Can you tell me what kind of difference it makes for these whānau to have somewhere stable to live for that period of twelve weeks, and to have a bit of awhi and a bit of support around them?
CP: It makes a huge difference, because there's a huge difference especially when they have to come into the motels, they don't have to go and get their weekly quotes to stay in this motel that they're in, if they're with us. It means that they don't have to that side of things. However, there is the other side, their obligations that they have to adhere to. To continue to search themselves to look for a home, and if they do find something, then we're there to either take them along to have a look at a home viewing, in the private rental sector, or we're there to help them or awhi them considering their Housing New Zealand applications, the assessment that they may have already done with MSD housing line, on the 0800 line there, or the interviews that may take place there. But, in saying that, just knowing that they've got support in place, really helps our families. They feel encouraged, I think they do, yeah.
JK: Need to stabilise their living circumstances, and then empower them so they can make positive choices.
CP: Very much so, and that’s what it’s all about, is that empowerment, and the services that we have to embrace them with.
JH: We’re a mainstream organisation on the whole, but we have a strong connection to kaupapa Māori practice. So there's a component of our services, that adhere to kaupapa Māori. So it's part and parcel of some of our principles, the organisation itself. So we have a cultural arm, and a training that's provided for practicing with kaupapa Māori values. So, that's our takarangi programme, that all our staff get to go on, yeah, and train with. So, yeah, in terms of that, but our housing team of course, is, we're right in the midst of it with Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga.
JK: It must be awesome working with whānau and just seeing their journey that they're on, particularly when you get to the point where they're seeing better outcomes for their family.
CP: Oh, it's awesome. I love it. You know, especially when you've seen families stuck in the motels for certain periods of time, and as one of our kaumātua mentioned from the Heretaunga Te Taiwhenua, says that the person was very happy just to cook a meal on an oven. So I mean, they've been trapped in these places for that time, and now they've found a home for them to stay in, and just to cook a meal for the family, the basic necessities of life, meant a lot to him. So, even that, and just hearing those things is really cool. At the end of the day, we’ve still got to be positive, this is the roles that we're in and the job that we have, to have that positive attitude so that they can see that in us, and so that, you know, we don’t want to give up on them.
JK: James Lyver, nō Kauhngungu, is the Contracts and Business Development Manager at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga. We met James outside a new 10-unit development in Maraenui, a neighbourhood in Napier that has traditionally been characterised by its high concentration of State housing.
James Lyver: This particular project here was a Housing New Zealand initiative, and what's really exciting about this is they really looked at the waiting list, and knowing that we had some of the hardest people to house, are your individuals or your solo parents with one child. Because they're such a low ranking with Housing New Zealand, and there's just no one beddies in Hawke's Bay. So this was a really good initiative to show, and we've got demand already, and we're moving whānau on. So what's exciting about this is that we looked at the research, we were able to build to it, and then we were able to provide our wrap-around Te Whare Huakina services to this area to a vulnerable community, or a segment of our community. And that's pretty exciting, about what they are. And they look beautiful. They're a beautiful place. So there's ten, ten one beddies, 54-56 square metres. And that's cool. Because they're a large space, and in a communal environment where they're starting to kōrero together. So we're starting to do some clever things, so we're going to put a barbeque table out here, a bit of a gazebo, and maybe a kids playground, but we're still yet to sort that one out. Yeah, really cool community, high vulnerable needs, looked at the numbers and it made sense.
JK: The 10-unit development is the latest project to be delivered by Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga in partnership with Emerge Aotearoa.
JL: So the name Te Whare Huakina came from our pou tikanga, and it's around that kupu mātua huakina, and that whakataukī, huakina te tatou o te whare, open the door to the house. And for us, it wasn't really about te whare huakina being a physical, one physical location or a house, it's around a philosophy of working, and it's really about huakina te tatou o te whare, opening the door of the house, opening the door to a warm, dry and safe home, but really about opening the door to a better opportunity for whānau, and helping them forward. And that’s the exciting part, is that we've been given the chance to help whānau at a really vulnerable time in their life, to get ahead, and that's the exciting part I think. And the warm dry home, and having a beautiful whare, and those things, it's fantastic and it's absolutely essential, but I think it's secondary to a navigator, and having a social support, and seeing the difference that they can make, and help whānau articulate. Quite a hard world to go into, to WINZ and MSD, Housing New Zealand, health providers and other sort of agencies, it's a hard world to work in, and our whānau, having someone to go along with them to support them side-by-side, we're noticing that's, that's the major play. The whare really is just the vehicle for us to be able to engage, and that's exciting for us. Building a house is cool, and without whakaiti-ng it, it's easy. It's really simple to build a house. These were built in six week, at a fairly significant money, but not insurmountable. But it'd be hopeless without the navigators, and the social support. I reckon the social support's crucial, cause then let's move them on to their own houses. And we just haven't seen that social support like we've done, and I think that's what's exciting about emergency housing, which is quite different to social housing settings, is that we're finally being recognised for the social support. That we've all been doing for years and years, but finally we've been actually picked up for something. Sure, it could always be more, but at least it's something and it's a nod towards it, and a nod for tenancy management. Some really good examples, I think of three right off the bat. We had three different whānau coming into Te Whare Huakina, one dad come in, a dad and a 16 year old boy, and they come into a house and his boy had respiratory diseases, and he'd been really suffering with asthma. And he came into this whare, and what he saw, is he saw the HRV, the air filter, he saw the heat pump and stuff like that, and for him he was like really excited to get through winter and have his boy not presenting as much at A&E. And what was really cool, was that after being in the house a month, he was able to attend rugby practice. He was in the second 15 and he managed to sit on the bench for the first 15, and then that's when they won the nationals last year. So this boy was able to attend practice, go along, have the opportunity to then play for the firsts, and just have a better outlook. So for that dad it was about the HRV and having a warm dry home. And the other example I think of, which is similar, it's another dad and he had five kids under five. Five kids under five, he lived in a motel, and it didn't have a kitchen. Five kids under five, he was living in this motel three months, no kitchen. He moved into a house, and it's a beautiful house, like a really beautiful house. It's our best home, a very, very large three-bedroom home, big backyard, in a really, really nice part of Napier. And what got us for him, is he walked into the house, and the first thing he looked for, was he looked for the stove. And he looked in, and he saw the pots and pans, and for him, all he wanted to do was cook his family a Sunday meal. And he was actually a chef, a cook, when he was a young fella. So for him, kai was important, and sitting around the table. So for him, the room, the neighbourhood was really fancy, but he wanted the kai. And think that's, they're the sort of stories that we're hearing and coming out. And then the third one is straight out of a motel. This one's exciting, cause a mummy was living in a motel for around a year, waiting for a house to come up, and she was on the waitlist. And sure enough, but what she didn't realise, was that she had some unfulfilled obligations with housing. So we got with her, whanaungatanga, catched up with her, really built some trust, and then we supported her with getting her housing application re-assessed. We pretty quickly realised that she had some obligations that she needed to do, and she had to present some evidence. So, and we went away, it took about a week to get that stuff. We called back, re-submitted it. Her housing criteria went from a low A to a high A, like A-15, A-16, and then she got a call like three days later and got a home. So, she'd been living in a motel, unfulfilled obligations, we met with her and within three weeks we'd supported her to just find a home. And that's not any magic bullet, or we're not pulling any fantastic things out, it's just a very normal process. Housing application, Housing New Zealand home, but just her walking along. And we’re having those stories often, and frequent, so.
JK: And taking the time to get to know these whānau and understand their needs and priorities.
JL: For sure, and I think that's where Te Whare Huakina works in a whānau ora way, where we're trying to get together, and first things first is to know your name, sit down with you, understand your whānau, have a cup of tea, relax and settle. Mihi whakatau, if they want it, and sometimes it's not appropriate. I mean just settle in, and then after a couple of weeks, then go and write a plan, then go and figure out what we need to do, go and do the steps that you need to do to get yourself along, with still aspirations. So in your whānau ora plan, it might be about getting a house, but really it's about moving on to getting something better. Because soon as they've got their home, what's next, what's next, what's next? So our housing navigators, our social workers, are just fantastic in the way they work with our whānau in emergency housing.
JK: Awesome. Now I'm wondering, like you said earlier that, you know, the emergency housing is important, but it's not the end game. So where do you see this kind of fitting in to the bigger picture?
JL: For Taiwhenua o Heretaunga and Emerge Aotearoa, it's a great first step. For Taiwhenua we're wanting to build our presence in social housing, and it's one of the pou of the Board, for us to move forward. And I think this is the first, a really really good step for us, to learn some internal capacity, and get some skills, and build our infrastructure so that we're able to progress on and do things at a larger scale. Going from a couple of social homes, or a couple of social places, to much larger in the hundreds is a, could be a step too far. So this is a really good chance for us to build internal capacity internally. So that's us, internally, looking in. So if we look out the window, I think there's probably a chance for us to use our networking internally in Hawke's Bay, to look at understanding whether the housing stock is better, and more intimately on a more street by street nature. So we can understand where whānau fit in best, who those whānau are, who those whānau are. And we’ve got aspirations for building as well, that’s further along the continuum I guess.
JK: How did this partnership with Emerge come about?
JL: So Te Whare Huakina is fantastic. So we applied through the normal ITP that MSD put out for emergency housing. And we were really focussed on vulnerable teenage mums. So we have the second highest Māori pregnancy rate in the country, and then we have really high homelessness rate with our young parents and in our NEET, in our rangatahi space. So we really identified that as being a high priority. Concurrently, while that's happening, like all good relationships our CE met up with a Board member of Emerge, in the Koru Lounge, where all good relationships start, and as they got going and they got talking, we saw their was some real alignments there. So we stepped down a level, and then I started talking with their team, and we said actually, there's some real benefits and strengths that we can each bring. We identified some areas that we need to improve on at Taiwhenua, and I think Emerge identified some areas that they perhaps needed some help. So it was a really good synergy for us to both leverage each other's strength, and then come together in quite a unique arrangement, where Taiwhenua are the lead contract holders, and then we subcontract off Napier Properties for Emerge. And it's worked, and it's working really, really well, and we're able to work together as a team, so look at the bigger picture.
JK: When I was speaking to Jo earlier, I asked you know, is Emerge a kaupapa Māori organisation, and she's like, well, no it's not, but a lot of, you know, we bring a lot of that with us into the organisation as staff, and also just the way of working is informed by that a lot. But she said it's a bit different working with Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, because they rely more heavily on the Taiwhenua's way of doing things. So, can you talk a little bit more about how that works.
JL: Yeah, so Taiwhenua is definitely a kaupapa Māori organisation, instilled and ingrained from right back, 32 years ago. And we've adopted all of those moteatea, whakataukī, to bring it in. But really, it's driven from our core values, so whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga, kotahitanga, and whakamana. Is used as, not only values but sort of guiding pou. So, when we're getting together, is that going to align with it? And that's almost a decision-making tool.
JK: Bringing yourself back.
JL: Bringing yourself back, and if it can hit one, that's okay. If you can hit two values, that's good. But really you should be trying to hit all four, all the time, and that keeps you authentic and keeps you in check really. So it's a really a traffic light, a guiding pou for us in the way we work. And in that, kaupapa Māori is lived in an authentic way. And sure, we need to keep progressing and upgrading and upskilling ourselves, and I think perhaps that's where we're, we provide a uniqueness to the housing crisis here in Hawke's Bay, is through our kaupapa Māori values.
JK: Now the other thing I wanted to ask about, before you were saying, you know, how are we pre-empting some changes that are coming, how are we looking towards the future, what could we be doing differently?
JL: What a fascinating discussion today, the day that Minister Twyford released the report, in and around about how we look at future proofing. Because let's be honest, emergency housing's fantastic, it's happening right now, but perhaps it's not the full-time solution, and I think we can all agree with that. But what it's really surprising - not surprising, but what's fascinating for me, is that, are we having those higher level discussions around, are we ready for a changing demographic. Are we ready to start looking at an ageing, healthier, wealthier population than we've ever seen. Hawke's Bay has got the third oldest population in the country, with a median Māori population. How are we having those conversations? By 2030 we're going to have ethnic Asian population outnumbering our Pasifika population. We're going to have Māori with a new identity. How's the new kiwi going to look, and are we positioning ourselves as taiwhenua, and are we positioning ourselves as whānau ora providers, to a new looking rangatahi, to a new looking environment. And not only in how the whānau look, because those rangatahi in 13 years aren't going to be migrants, they're going to be children of migrants who are marrying into kaupapa Māori whānau, and they're children are going to have whakapapa lines. So are we set, are we ready, are we mature enough to have those conversations. And that's fascinating, but it's also the vehicle to talk about other things. Are we thinking, even in design, so that's around whānau, but are we talking in design. Meth's a good one, are we positioned to handle meth, rather than a stick mentality, are we using carrots to be proactive before meth. So we, five years ago, warm, dry and condensation free was the be all and catch all of everything. But that's normal now, and should be normal, it should be absolutely normal. About insulation discussions and smoke alarms. And we're beyond that, we're way beyond that. We should be having pro-meth discussions, and pro-domestic violence discussions, and employment discussions at a high level, and I don't know, I'm optimistic we are, but let's have this discussion more and more, and let's keep thrashing it out, by using kaupapa Māori philosophies in a current mechanisms, like emergency housing, which is already here for everyone to take now and build on it to grow your capacity I reckon.
JK: What would you do different in the design?
JL: So in physical design, there's some clever things you can do with high affinity areas, easier areas that you can clean, more open planning and fence design. Quite quickly we're always looking at gated communities with cameras, are there other ways that we can use and instil more mixed tenure, so that we're getting more community building. That's probably something in some design stuff that we’re noticing.
JK: Indigenous Urbanism Aotearoa Edition is a production of Te Matapihi. Sandy Wakefield does our sound recording, editing, and mixing. Our theme was composed by Thomas Burton. I’m Jade Kake, your host and Executive Producer.
For more information about today’s show and other episodes of Indigenous Urbanism go to indigenousurbanism.net. You can drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you like what you’re hearing, please give us a review or rating on iTunes.
Coming up next on Indigenous Urbanism, we speak with Daniel Glenn, an architect from the Crow tribe of Montana who leads a firm based in Seattle, Washington specialising in culturally and environmentally responsive architecture and planning.
Daniel Glenn: We don't have those numbers, so there's very small numbers in urban, comparatively to the larger, majority population. So what I try to talk about, is that we don't have numbers but we have centuries, and millenias of time. So, this notion of the weight of time, and that presence sort of supercedes the small numbers that we currently have. And say how can we bring the power of that ten thousand years, or 15 thousand years of presence, to the forefront in our cities.