Pukaki Papakainga

It’s been a long and complicated journey for a Papakāinga development opening in Auckland this month. Pūkaki Ahuwhenua Chair Julie Wade says– the results have been worth it.

“They are just beautiful. Nice, comfortable, and affordable for our families,” she says of the 10 new homes created on ancestral land just a stone’s throw from Auckland International Airport.

The land was first confiscated under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863 – 6 acres of the more than 1.2 million acres confiscated from Waikato.

Then in the 1960s land use was restricted for airport protection which meant homes and adjacent marae buildings eventually fell into disrepair, pulled down and families moved away.

When the block was eventually able to be built on again in the early 1990s, it came with gestures of goodwill from the Manukau City Council and the Auckland Airport Company who put roading and services in place to make up for earlier losses.

Since then it has been a project which has drawn on support, input, and passion from a range of Crown agencies, individuals, and community organisations, in particular Habitat for Humanity Greater Auckland, the New Zealand Housing Foundation, Auckland Council, and Te Puni Kōkiri.

“They comprise the true partnership that has helped to build this papakāinga. To cut a long story short, there has been just a lot of planning and co-ordinating to get to this,” says Julie.

The first stage was a new marae; completed in 2004 and opened by Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu on 1 May that same year, the marae stands at the heart of the new homes.

The planning in earnest began for the papakāinga in 2009 – a development that would both fit in with government housing priorities at the time as well as create the environment for whānaungatanga.

Te Puni Kōkiri helped the Trust facilitate between the myriad of government and private sector organisations that had an interest in the project, as well as help the Trust ensure their decisions were in line with owners’ aspirations.

Senior adviser Pauline Tangohau said the history of the land added complexities but the Auckland housing shortage created the demand for the Pūkaki project that demonstrated Māori willingness to commit great time and resources. “There were definitely hurdles to overcome but we could see what a great opportunity there was and helping manage situations like this is what we focus on.”

Julie says support for the project was tremendous. “It’s just a matter of finding that professional within the organisation who really understands what you are trying to achieve and who can see the opportunities of working with you. You’ve got to look for that person whose eyes light up when you talk about your vision.

“It’s not necessarily the boss either. The first person I met who really opened up to us was a young Pākehā planner in the Council,” she says.

Another early supporter was architect Rau Hoskins, who rose to the challenge to create homes that fitted the rural character of the Manukau location and also allowed for whānaungatanga.

“We’ve created a communal environment by not having fences between the homes; we are using landscaping as a technique for private spaces.”

Rau is also quick to acknowledge that there are special aspects to the homes that come from the whānau themselves.

“They’ve worked really hard to make sure it all worked including the colour schemes and unique brick patterning on the outside walls,” he says.