The Maori Party Sellout State Housing

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 10.58.20 pm.png  Materoa Kanuta decorates the wall of her state house with photographic memories from the 50 years she and her family have lived there.


A total of 1/3 of all Maori live in state homes. These homes for decades have provided Maori with a place to bring up their children  and care for their elders. These state homes have ensured that generations have been able to thrive because they have shelter. I grew up in a state house at 66 Idlewild Avenue, Mangere. Before the disastrous impact of Rodger Douglas’s & Ruth Richardson’s economic fundamentalism, Mangere was a close knit and vibrant suburb of Auckland. We lived, worked and played together, our homes were always open to each other, we shared the best and worst of times, we cared for each other, we were a community.

The Tamaki Housing Group warned us years ago that the policy of transferring houses to community housing providers was set to fail, because the private market has never been able to provide healthy and affordable housing for low-income families.

A clear example of this is what’s happening in Auckland’s eastern suburbs. This is not community revitalisation but state-led gentrification and privatisation where the government provides valuable land to private developers.

Over the preceding years the National government have simply turned off the tap of public investment in public housing through a combination of cuts and controls, with state support increasingly diverted into private home ownership and the private rental sector.The privatisation of housing has played a particularly key role in neoliberalism, wresting the supply of shelter – a basic human need and right – out of the public welfare system and firmly back into the precarious, commodified world of competitive markets, property speculation and self-provision.

The Maori Party’s recent support of the sell off of state housing is privatisation by stealth.They conflate management by an elite minority of Maori with Tino Rangatiratanga. The Maori Party once again are used as a Trojan horse for privatisation.

Morgan Godfery notes that “It is worth touching on iwi authorities as market models with an indigenous flavour. In the push for development iwi have embraced the neo liberal model. They also want to play a part in the privatisation agenda of the current government (e.g. private prisons, PPP etc…). It appears to me that iwi authorities have rationalised such goals by adopting the ‘trickle down’ philosophy. They seem to reason that Maori participation in the neo liberal experiment will result in indirect ‘trickle down’ benefits for ordinary Maori despite the trickle down theory been rather discredited.”

Newly enriched Iwi leaders are on a shopping spree for state assets and state contracts for services and they are being used by National to promote privatisation across the entire economy. It’s clear that since the Maori Party privileges the Maori Iwi elite over the needs of majority of the Maori, working class Maori who will be disadvantaged.

To secure the Maori Party’s support for a piece of legislation,  the government increasingly does deals with the Maori Party and Iwi leaders to provide political cover for right-wing politicians driving community destroying policies. This was clearly evidenced when the bill went to vote the Maori Party weren’t even in the debating chamber and had given their proxy votes to the National Party.

Politicians have figured it’s harder to attack the dismantling of social assets and the sale of state assets when Maori ( albeit an elite minority) are the beneficiaries.

Paula Bennett stands in the house defending a bill that will give her and Bill English, the deputy prime minister, absolute unfettered powers to do any deal they like with whomever they like on any terms and conditions in relation to the privatisation of state housing and this is what the Māori Party and Marama Fox are trying to spin and dress up as Tino Rangatiratanga.

That is not Tino Rangatiratanga . Supporting an unprecedented transfer of power into two Minister’s hands, who can then privatise state assets – is not tino rangatiratanga. The Maori party has become brown wash for a very nasty neoliberal agenda from the National government.

Crown created entities are NOT Iwi ; they are not representative of the vast majority of Maori . Maori who have been discarded by the neoliberal agenda have never benefited by the Maori Party repackaging of their flimsy and symbolic gains from the national government as “Tino Rangatiratanga”.

We now see the Marama Fox parroting the National Governments anti state and anti welfare rhetoric in relation to state housing, ”I come with some frustration at those who want to deride the name of the Maori Party because we dare to have an independent voice,” she said. “This is not a vote for a wholesale sell-off of the housing stock. For us, this is a vote of rangitiratanga.”

“Iwi had asked the Maori Party to back the bill so they could get into the social housing market, she said. “Housing New Zealand has done an appalling job of looking after our people, and [iwi] believe they can do it better.” she says.

This is a return to the ACT-style thinking of the ’80s and ’90s. It essentially says ‘government bad, market good’. It says it’s not only OK but good for private companies to profit from housing the country’s most vulnerable, even though logic suggests that it will push up costs. It is red meat for the right and goes down the ideological path Key has been so eager to distance himself from as a ‘post-politics’ politician.

We were clearly warned about this agenda by the kuia and the communities in Glen Innes that fought hard to retain their homes in their community . We have the examples of the complete failure of the privatisation of state/social housing in England and Scotland as a malign exercise in privatisation by stealth, designed to cheat the poor out of decent housing.

“We must recommit our time, energy, and resources to this mission, deconstructing the class interests behind government policy, following and exposing their societal effects, highlighting the perspectives of people feeling the sharp end of neoliberalisation processes, and working collaboratively with campaigns and social movements to resist injustice and formulate alternatives” (Neoliberal housing policy – time for a critical re-appraisal)

Our People are suffering and struggling, while a few have benefited from limited gains. The majority of our people are still the disenfranchised and disinherited, the discarded of the neo-liberal agenda. We are in the midst of a housing crisis, there is a huge increase in homeless whanau  living in cars, garages and overcrowding the homes of friends and family.

Maori at the bottom of the heap are getting bashed. The social conditions for Maori have worsened under John Key .The Maori Party’s version of Tino rangatiratanga is all about empowering a small corporate elite, and treating the rest of us as a sacrifice zone for the worst excesses of neoliberalism.

The Maori Party’s continued support of the National government has directly lead to the social conditions of our people are going backwards. This is a fact. Their support of the privatisation of State Housing is unforgivable and is a serious political misjudgment, one in which they will pay for in electoral oblivion next year.

Sina Brown-Davis

Te Roroa, Te Uriohau, Fale Ula, Vava’u



Author: Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

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