By Mikaela Collins
Photo: Michael Cunnigham
Originally published in the Northern Advocate

Work has started on papakāinga in Otangarei which will provide transitional housing for families before they move on to more sustainable accommodation.

Otangarei Papakāinga Ltd (OPL) has started preparing the site, next to Fishbone Park, for construction of the five two-bedroom homes following a blessing by local kaumātua last Monday.

Janine Kaipo, operations manager for OPL’s parent provider Te Hau Āwhiowhio o Otangarei Trust, said it had been a long process getting to that stage.

“Once you do the blessing, you know you’re on your way. It’s kind of exciting,” she said.

In February Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced funding of almost $900,000 for Otangarei Papakainga -$450,000 from Te Puni Kōkiri and $431,241 from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

A sketch of the proposed papakāinga.

The Otangarei Papakāinga contribution is $50,000 and Te Hau Āwhiowhio o Otangarei Trust will provide a loan of up to $200,000.

Kaipo said the papakāinga had been a vision of Te Hau Āwhiowhio’s chief executive Martin Kaipo for a long time.

“We’ve all seen the benefits of what this could do. We can’t all go out to rural land somewhere, so we needed to start looking at papakāinga in an urban setting and what that looks like,” she said.

The homes will temporarily house families from the Ministry of Social Development’s social housing register, before they move on to more sustainable accommodation.

“I think as community members and homeowners, we want to see a better plan forward and I think papakāinga puts that ownership and puts us in the conversation so we’re not left out and dealt something we’re not a part of,” she said.

Kaipo said there would be wraparound services in place so families were not just being dumped and moved on.

“It will be a safe resting place for whānau. Families will have the space to settle and get their bearings; to make a plan for the future and focus on what’s next for them.”