- On Wednesday the Minister of Housing, Megan Wood, announced changes to the Government’s Kiwibuild programme, which is a policy initiative designed to increase housing affordability for low and middle income first home buyers. One of the main changes is a ‘Progressive Home Ownership Scheme’, via either rent-to-own or shared equity ownership models. (Both approaches are thought to reduce the deposit burden required by whānau to enter the housing market.) 
The shared equity concept may allow for third-parties – potentially iwi entities – to co-own a home with a whānau, until the whānau can afford to purchase outright. This concept has potential to increase Māori home ownership, and better position iwi/Māori entities in housing provision. However, no substantive details on how it might work have been provided as yet. (We also note no new funds are attached, just the redevelopment of existing housing funding.) Overall, given housing was a major policy platform for this Government, it is difficult to see much gain as yet and the lack of practical details does not instil policy confidence.
[Important background context: Housing is one of two policy levers that has high tractability (social change potential), because of the flow-on effects to other socio-economic outcomes – i.e. better education and health outcomes are directly linked to housing quality and stability. (School participation, for example, is easy and more consistent if children are not moving between multiple rental properties.) Moreover, better economic outcomes are also linked to home ownership: in short, home ownership allows for the investment of income into an asset (the house), rather than the expenditure of income on rent. This can lead to inter-generational wealth changes. For these reasons housing outcomes matter to Māori, but Statistics NZ research shows that the (age adjusted) Māori individual home ownership rate is 35% (and falling). Ultimately most Māori adults and children now live in rental properties – opposite to the non-Māori population. This is one of the key socio-economic differences between Māori and non-Māori. (Pānui 19/2016 refers.)]
- On Monday the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released a 1-page infographic on labour market publication entitled ‘Labour Market Statistics Snapshot to June 2019’. This brings together already published Statistics NZ information and other data. The Māori labour markets statistics presented are:
- Ranginui 12 Trust has been granted a $2.8 million investment from Te Puni Kōkiri for the development of a nine home papakāinga in Tauranga. The total cost of the development is circa $4.8 million.
- This week the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, announced details for the ‘opt-in-donations’ scheme. Up to 1,700 decile 1-7 schools will be given the opportunity to receive additional funding of $150 per student, if they join the scheme, and forfeit the right to seek ‘activity fees’/donations from parents/whānau. The purpose of the funding is to reduce the financial burden of schooling on low income whānau and families. We expect this will be positive outcome for many Māori whānau.
- Today the Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage, announced that the Central North Island township of Bennydale will now be officially known by the dual name Maniaiti / Benneydale and the main railway line between Te Awamutu and Taumarunui, is now named ‘Te Ara-o-Tūrongo’ The name changes were initiated by Ngāti Maniapoto.
- On Monday the Associate Minister of Education, Kelvin Davis, announced the launch of Te Mataaho-ā-Iwi: Iwi Education Profiles Dashboard. Te Mataaho-ā-Iwi is an online tool which provides data for Māori Learners including the learners’ iwi affiliation. We are presently reviewing the usefulness of this tool and will advise further if appropriate.
- On Wednesday the Associate Minister of Education, Kelvin Davis, launched Kauwhata Reo, an online hub for Te Reo Māori resources. https://kauwhatareo.govt.nz/
- This week a prominent Māori Northland doctor, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, called for the Government to make the immunisation of children compulsory and to impose sanctions on caregivers (such as reducing benefit payments) for those who chose not to have their children in the vaccination programme. The Associate Minister of Health, Julie Anne Genter, debunked that as a policy platform, noting that children should not be punished for the actions of their parents. We are not aware of any evidence to support Dr O’Sullivan’s proposal that sanctions on those receiving state support may increase immunisation rates.
[We note the Ministry of Health’s Director of Public Health, Dr Caroline McElnay, advises immunisation is the best way to protect against getting measles. Measles (MMR) vaccination is free to everyone under the age of 50 and is said to be 99 percent effective after two doses.]
 Other changes related to minium deposite thresholds. The annoucement can be viewed here: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/kiwibuild-reset-reduces-deposit-needed-buy-first-home
 We provide a fuller analysis of unemployment and related data as Statistics NZ releases it. Refer Pānui x/2019.