For a growing number of Hawke’s Bay residents, finding a place to call home is an ongoing struggle. Like many areas around New Zealand, our district is experiencing a chronic housing shortage. Although the construction sector is ramping up to meet demand, the focus is often on building larger up-market properties. This leaves very few affordable housing options for first-home buyers and renters.
Aayden Clarke and Rawinia Lewis of Ngāti Kahungunu property management company K3 are determined to change this. “We established K3 as a way to start making real progress in building affordable homes for those living in the Kahungunu rohe. We believe all whānau should have the opportunity to live in a warm, dry and beautiful home,” says Aayden.
K3’s broader goal is to provide training, employment and business opportunities for Māori, increasing living standards and income levels. Employees on K3 construction projects will be paid at least the living wage, and there will be a number of apprenticeships available for those looking to get started in the industry. “Over the coming months we’re likely to see more people losing their jobs. Homelessness is becoming a real issue for our district. Having a home and a job is such an important way to break the cycle. Our vision is for Māori to build homes for Māori, and to help whānau to achieve home ownership and stable employment in the process,”
Prior to taking on the position of business manager at K3, Rawinia Lewis was working on housing projects at the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). “Part of my role at MSD included overseeing emergency housing,” says Rawinia. “Between March and June 2020, the Ministry spent nearly $3 million on emergency accommodation for over 500 homeless people in the Hawke’s Bay. These are people living in our rohe that need a home. Ngāti Kahungunu has decided to take an active role in finding better solutions to this problem,” says Rawinia.
The organisation sees building homes as a way to achieve many additional benefits, including improved living standards, long-term employment opportunities, and training for iwi in trade and professional services. K3’s apprenticeship programme recently received $2 million from the Government’s Māori Trades and Training Fund. This $50 million fund was launched as part of the 2020 Budget’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery strategy.
Over the long-term, Aayden, a consultant to K3, says it’s aim is also to help increase Māori business ownership. “Many whānau are living pay cheque to pay cheque and that can be incredibly stressful. When you see Dad or Mum waiting to be picked up each morning at 7am to head off to work for someone else, that becomes normal. We want more Māori families to be heading off to work in their own truck, with their own business name printed on the side,” he says.
K3 is working with partners such at Kāinga Ora, Habitat for Humanity, Napier City Council and Hastings District Council. “It’s really important that we join together to address the housing problem in our district. Our chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana’s vision for this mahi is to eradicate homelessness in our rohe. We need to start being brave and trying new ideas. There are some great examples around the world of how to build affordable homes and communities that people actually want to live in. It’s not about just dumping a box on a bare piece of land and hoping for the best” says Aayden.
K3 will be looking to prioritise suppliers and contractors that support the organisation’s mission. “We want to use these projects as a way to improve the long-term health and well-being of Māori. We’re keen to work with those who understand our kaupapa, and are particularly interested in hearing from Māori tradespeople and businesses,” says Aayden.
For more information about K3 visit www.k3property.co.nz