The provision of papakāinga – communal living on Māori ancestral land – in Waipā has been described as a top priority – but a plan change is needed to make it happen.
“Our message is clear; all we want is to be able to use our lands for a better purpose. And that better purpose is by creating papakāinga,” said Harold Maniapoto of Ngāti Maniapoto.
The topic was discussed at length during the council’s Iwi Consultative Committee meeting last week.
The ability to develop community living spaces on Māori ancestral land, papakāinga, is allowed in some parts of the district, but a District Plan change is needed before any more papakāinga can be developed.
There is no budget to make the proposed plan change.
Waipā District Council project delivery manager Peter Thomson said according to an early estimate the proposed plan change, named Plan Change 23, would cost the council $350,000 to progress.
Gaylene Roberts, chairperson of Ngā Iwi Tōpū O Waipā, said making this plan change should be a top priority for the council.
“Iwi don’t need a handout, we just need a hand up from council,” she said.
The council is deciding whether it will accept its $5.24 million tranche one share of the government’s $2 billion Better Off Fund, which was developed alongside the Three Waters Reform.
The Better Off Fund can be used for a number of initiatives, including the enabling of housing developments and growth – papakāinga falls under this category.
Iwi representatives have asked that the council apply for the funding so that papakāinga and Plan Change 23 can be prioritised.
“I cannot say this clear and loudly enough, we are at desperation point. We are past the point of saying ‘let us be reasonable about this’, we cannot be. Because everyone is suffering and we are suffering worse,” said Maniapoto.
“We have some funding available, what we are saying is that papakāinga should be a high priority on that list. The fact that we do not have any plan right now is because nobody even knew about this… It is a very valuable use of that money because it will help our people.”
The council discussed papakāinga and the government’s Better Off Fund during a workshop on September 13.
During the workshop, the council showed a revised list of projects that could be funded by the government’s Better Off Fund. The Iwi Consultative Committee feedback was reflected in the list and papakāinga was placed first.
The council also held a mock vote on whether they would apply for the funding or not. Not all council members were present, but the majority of those in attendance voted in favour of applying.
The council will make a final decision on the matter on September 20.