Analysis of District Plan Papakāinga Rules

The Analysis of District Plan Papakāinga Rules report represents how well council district plans provide for the development of papakāinga housing.

Published: Wednesday, 22 May 2024 | Rāapa, 22 Haratua, 2024

“We all know that Māori landowners face barriers when looking to develop papakāinga housing on their whenua including council planning rules and processes,” says Māori Housing Director Timoti Gallagher.

The report identifies examples of good practice from among the 65 plans reviewed by the Māori Housing team. It also makes recommendations for how local planning rules can be improved.

“Our goal is to influence councils to improve planning regulations and practices to better enable papakāinga development on whenua Māori,” says Timoti.

“The report shows that 45 out of 65 district plans have an explicit papakāinga rule, however, there is wide variation between rules in different plans, so some are more enabling than others.

“In particular, the analysis found that some rules define the term ‘papakāinga’ narrowly to include only residential development. Other definitions are broader.”

Some of the broader definitions include non-residential uses such as education, health, cultural, and commercial uses. These broader definitions align more closely with traditional concepts of papakāinga.

“The analysis also revealed that there is a wide variation in the geographical scope of papakāinga rules and the ‘activity status’ of papakāinga.”

In 29 plans, papakāinga is ‘permitted’ somewhere in the district. In some plans, the papakāinga rule applies only on land with the status of Māori freehold land, while in others, the rule applies more broadly including on certain kinds of general land.

“Often, detailed planning rules limit the maximum number of homes on a block. Only rarely are such limits tied to the underlying capacity of the whenua to service homes in a sustainable way.”

Some district plans require Māori landowners to provide a papakāinga development plan.

Timoti advises “development plans may support good design and planning over the long term however experience tells us that Māori housing plans need to have flexibility to be able to move at the pace with which whānau and rōpū are comfortable. This can mean a year or two may pass between initial conversations and a developed plan.”

To’osavili Nigel Bickle, Chief Executive Officer at Hastings District Council’s says “at Hastings DC we are proud of our enabling provisions which provide papakāinga for Māori across the District. Our aim is to reduce roadblocks, which has allowed for multiple hapū to relocate to their traditional lands and to provide housing for parts of our community that may not have been otherwise able to do so. We advocate for all Council’s taking a more enabling approach to papakāinga in their District Plans, and welcome new ideas and innovations which allow for continuous improvement to our planning provisions.”

Timoti believes that improved papakāinga planning rules that help unlock the housing potential of whenua Māori, could make a positive difference to whānau. Improved rules would also help local authorities meet local housing demands by increasing the supply of developable land.

“Analysis shows that improvements to district plans should include well-defined papakāinga rules, not just high-level statements,” says Timoti.

For example, papakāinga rules should apply in all the places where hapori Māori may want to develop papakāinga, not just on Māori freehold land, or in certain areas.

Papakāinga rules should also provide for a range of non-residential activities to take place (for example cultural, educational, and commercial activities, and urupā) and not unreasonably restrict the number of dwellings allowed on land developed for papakāinga.

Local planning rules must align with other council policies that govern how easy or difficult it is to develop housing on Māori owned land, such as consenting processes, and development contributions and rating policies, and local provisions must also reflect the specific circumstances of each district, and this can only be achieved through the development of strong relationships between councils and tangata whenua of the rohe.

“It is hoped that Māori landowners find the report a useful resource and helps mana whenua to push for better rules in their local area so that whānau can realise their housing aspirations.

“We also hope councils use the findings in this report to improve their planning provisions as opportunities arise,” says Timoti.

The report can be downloaded here and more information on how we support new homes and papakāinga is available here.

Online wānanga

On 12 June 2024 we held a wānanga with council officers iwi and hapū and others involved in papakāinga development form across the country. Powerpoint slides from presentations at the wānanga discussing the report and its findings can also be found with the report here.

Email to express interest in attending and we’ll message you with the details.