Tūranganui-a-kiwa has a housing crisis. The problem may be nation-wide, but it is amplified here. House prices locally have gone up faster in this latest boom than almost any other part of the country. There is basically nothing to rent. And of the one or two properties that might be available at any given moment on TradeMe, they are more than a rip off; the prices are unconscionable.
Sure, if you’re on the right side of the divide there’s no problem. You’ve just been given tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, without having to lift a finger.
But if you’re on the wrong side of the divide, the prospect of owning a house just vanished. You might be sleeping at your relative’s house, staying in overcrowded accommodation, or have flatmates you don’t want. If you’re lucky enough to have a rental, your rental payments are almost certainly higher than your landlord’s mortgage repayments; so to top it all off, your landlord is almost effortlessly accumulating wealth while you may be working yourself into the ground and unable to even save for a deposit.
“If something about this story feels wrong, that’s because it is wrong”
We need to change it, but change isn’t going to happen by itself and in order for it to be effective it must be approached in a systematic way.
That is why we need to make sure that housing is part of our Long Term Plan in Tūranganui-a-kiwa.
So why isn’t housing in the Long Term Plan? I honestly don’t know. I’ve asked, but haven’t received a satisfactory answer. Maybe the Council isn’t aware that they can make a difference? Maybe it just seemed too hard? Maybe it’s not a top priority? Maybe it’s not clear how to fix the problem? Maybe the infrastructure costs to facilitate more housing seem too high? Maybe the Council feels that it’s the Central Government’s responsibility to fix such things?
It doesn’t really matter what the reason is. The reality is that there are a great number of people in Te Tairāwhiti – often people who don’t have a voice – who lack quality affordable housing, and this is a major issue affecting their lives. For many, remedying their housing situation is not an issue they can solve by themselves. For many more, the socioeconomic system they are entangled in prevents and disempowers them from doing so.
“To be clear, I’m not just talking about people in the bottom 10%, or people who are homeless, or people who are in social housing. I’m talking about people who work full time and earn the median annual salary. I’m talking about your “average” person too”.
The housing crisis is affecting a large cross-section of our community, and it touches one of our most fundamental human rights – the right to adequate housing that ensures the wellbeing and upholds the dignity of every person.
If housing is an issue affecting so many of us in this region, surely we have to include it in our Long Term Plan. We need to look at how we can move towards quality affordable housing. To overlook it, for whatever reason, is an injustice to our community. Of course the Central Government must work on the issue at the same time, but to ignore the agency of Local Council and its responsibility to look after its community will only lead to the perpetuation of growing inequalities. For some, this road will end in hospital, having been afflicted with health issues arising from inadequate shelter; others will gravitate towards gangs as a means to try to regain control over their lives and better their personal circumstances.
While the solution to our housing problem isn’t solely within the Council’s domain, the remedy will require action from the Central Government all the way through to the individual. There are plenty of steps our Council can take towards affordable quality housing.
As a start let’s put housing on the agenda and include it in the Long Term Plan. Then let’s also make it part of a short term plan. After that, the Council can look at its planning rules and policies, identify which ones slow down the development of housing, and eliminate them. It’s an absolute pain to develop housing, especially if you want to do anything different. What’s the problem with apartments? What’s the big deal with tiny houses? Why can’t we go ahead and convert the garage if we use professionals?
“We need to stop making it illegal to easily improve the housing situation”.
And while we are here let’s look at what sort of things will encourage more housing to be built, especially that which will increase density. And then let’s do it. We live in a country with some of the lowest density in the world; in that country, we live in a city with even lower density. Just because people aren’t used to change doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. What is worse, people sleeping in apartments or cars? Studios or emergency housing? My wife and I lived in a small one-bedroom apartment for four years, and it was great. There’s nothing wrong with a three, four, five story building with a number of dwellings (remember it’s not density that creates slums, it’s poverty. Is New York City one massive slum?)
If infrastructure is what’s holding housing up, then fix it. Don’t tell me that some people can’t have a house because we don’t know how to fund a sewage pipe. Find a way. Crowdfund if you have to.
Housing has a massive influence on the quality of people’s lives, and the current system is growing inequalities between those that have it and those that don’t. Within this context, Māori and Pasifika populations are almost always dealt the bad hand. The situation as it stands continues to sustain and promote inadequate housing for Māori and Pasifika and is a clear example of systemic racism that must be uprooted.
If we are going to make a difference to our housing crisis, we have to make housing a priority. We can’t ignore it. The problem is only going to get worse if we sit on our hands. So let’s put it on the agenda, make it part of the plan, make some changes and move forward.
By Zane Sabour Photograph Sarah Cleave | Model Alex Andrews This story was written with the support of Gizzy Local.
Anthonie Tonnon is realising a long-held ambition in Te Tairāwhiti on November 1st. Not only is he bringing his Rail Land show to the region – with the help of Arts on Tour and InCahoots, he is inviting an audience to join him and travel by train from Gisborne Station to Te Whare Maumahara mo Ngā Hoea O Te Muriwai – the hall at Te Muriwai marae.
A journey of the mind, through song and story about New Zealand’s on-and-off again love affair with its passenger railway system, Tonnon has taken Rail Land around Aotearoa twice, and this year will take the show beyond the main centres to 21 towns.
In the show, Tonnon weaves his current, past and future songs together with new custom material written for Rail Land – synthesizer soundscapes with spoken word narratives on topics like the closure of the Blue Streak Railcar, the 90s revival of the Silver Fern Carriages, or how to take the great Capital Connection train from Palmerston North to Wellington – a train Tonnon calls ‘the last of its kind.’
But like the space-themed visual spectacle A Synthesized Universe, which Tonnon performed for Te Tairawhiti Arts Festival last year, Rail Land has an immersive element too. This time it’s in the form of a real, communal journey rather than a virtual one. Where possible, Rail Land aims to get the entire audience to an extraordinary venue by public transport rail. Where no such transport exists, the goal of Rail Land is to make it exist, if only for one day.
The first place Tonnon achieved this was his hometown of Dunedin – a city where suburban trains ran until 1982. In 2018 and 2019, Tonnon chartered a Dunedin Railways train from Dunedin Station to a hall in the seaside settlement of Waitati.
‘The goal of Rail Land is to do something practical and joyous – while the story of rail in Aotearoa is often quite tragic, I didn’t want to just dwell on those tragedies, and I wanted to do something beyond just talking. I realised that if we could get enough people to go along with me, we could actually bring a train into existence in the present moment. Taking a train together with people in Dunedin to get to a show, something most of us haven’t done in our lifetime, was really euphoric – I think it expanded everyone’s sense of possibility.’
But chartering trains is no easy feat – fees to use the lines can be extraordinarily prohibitive, and rail operators outside the main centres have been under strain, even before Covid. This year, Dunedin Railways was mothballed during the first lockdown. Responding to the difficulties, Tonnon has expanded this year’s tour to include heritage buses and ferries in Dunedin, and is celebrating bus systems in towns like Queenstown which he says has shown the power of improving public transport, even if only on humble rubber wheels.
Tonnon says that in the places where freight trains don’t run, like the Weka Pass Railway in Canterbury, there can actually be more possibility for passengers “Because Gisborne’s line is currently disconnected from the main system, and because I’d seen Gisborne City Vintage Railway was doing regular trips, I thought it might just be possible here.” When performing at Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival last year, he asked In Cahoots’ Melody Craw if she thought she could help him pull it off. Nine months later, I got an email from her that said “here in Te Tairāwhiti everything is possible.”
Tonnon says that while the show is just the second on this year’s Rail Land tour, it’s the most ambitious journey planned on the tour. ‘Melody’s right – perhaps anything is possible here.’
Sunday November 1, Te Tairāwhiti / Gisborne – Te Whare Maumahara mo Ngā Hoea O Te Muriwai, 3pm – Get your tickets here
* Travel to Muriwai by Vintage Train and experience Rail Land in Te Whare Maumahara.Train leaves at 3pm and returns approx. 6.45pm
Next week is Tech Week, a week where across Aotearoa, the technology sector strives to amplify our unique and inspiring innovation stories, inviting aspiring tech entrepreneurs to make connections and gain insights and also an opportunity for our communities to stretch their understanding of what tech can be.
At Tōnui Collab we create opportunities for our rangatahi to explore and thrive with tech. As important as creating fun workshops, we are striving to help our rangatahi see a future for themselves in tech. Tech Week helps make these opportunities more visible. Māori make up only 1.9 percent of the tech workforce in New Zealand so it’s very important that the stories we are sharing speak to our rangatahi so that we can create a more diverse tech industry.
We have a number of great events during Tech Week that speak to the opportunities for our rangatahi starting with Amber Taylor’s session on Monday 27 July; Taylor, Co-Founder and CEO of ARA Journeys, builds mobile games that blend the digital world with te taiao and te ao Māori. Her session will address the importance of local community involvement in the design process and the value of gamification through an indigenous lens.
Gaming is often viewed negatively with gamers portrayed as antisocial and lazy but the global gaming industry is booming – how can we help our rangatahi transform from consumers to creators?
Ian Musson talks about the opportunities for us to be tech entrepreneurs in his session on Thursday 30 July. Musson, Head of Maori Engagement at Young Enterprise, and former Maori Business and Relationships Manager at Callaghan innovation, has a passion for supporting Maori in the tech and innovation space.
Creating a pathway from consumer to creator, Tōnui Collab is hosting two game development workshops on Tuesday 28 July and Thursday 30 July 6pm – 8pm. Tōnui Collab workshops with our young people daily but this week the team is inviting parents to explore and create alongside their children, these retro arcade game development workshops will have whanau creating and coding games reminiscent of Pac Man, Space Invaders, Mario Brothers.
ALL of these events are FREE but some have limited numbers so register online. You can check out the full programme of local events and nationwide events at https://techweek.co.nz/whats-on/
By Shanon O’Connor, TŌNUI Collab Collab. Image X TŌNUI Collab
Two years ago with her partner at her side Amy Moore embarked on the scariest thing she’d ever done… going on reality (not really reality) TV for 3 months. She knew that it would either make her or break her, and as it so happened, it did both.
Amy talks about how it broke her physically and even more so mentally, getting inside her head and breeding fear. She began to fear other peoples’ opinions, public gatherings, social media.. she didn’t leave her own home for about 6 weeks after getting back, her ‘own personal lockdown’.
After time though and with a little help from her friends, she made her way back to a place where she found enough belief in herself to do something different with her life; something meaningful that brought her enjoyment.
Being creative has always been a part of Amy’s life and finding a physical space in which to do that was, as she describes it, her ‘saving grace’.
Claiming the front of a commercial property occupied by her partner Stu and her Dad, a few walls were removed, a splash of colour added – mustard of course – and The WorkShop was born. Although it was pretty much ready to roll earlier this year, lockdown proved in some ways a blessing, giving Amy time to psych herself into actually physically opening the doors to the public.
Since opening those doors a few months ago now, the Workshop has blossomed and morphed as any truly creative space does. The beautiful little shop with its hint of tasteful Indonesian tattoo parlour, filled with stylish crafts, good smells and vintage finds, was turned into a workshop space over the school holidays, where participating kids turned their hands to weaving. Next on the shapeshifting agenda is an indoor winter market for local artisans in the adjoining shed, which is taking place this Saturday 25 July, from 11am – 4pm.
Amy is clear that the WorkShop is not only a creative space for herself, but for others as well. A place to pick up a handmade gift or vintage treasure, a place to sit and flick through books to derive a little inspiration for your home or a place to just pop in for a cuppa and to soak up a little inspiration for you too to do more of the things that you love.
Don’t miss the opportunity to tap into a whole lot of local craftiness and some much-needed mid-winter colour and inspiration – The Workshop, 73 Carnarvon Street, next to Bollywood.