“We are constantly told that it’s impossible to buy your own home,” she says.
But the 26-year-old māmā and 28-year-old husband Ben Armstrong, have broken that kōrero and are writing their own story about home ownership.
In 2019, Aaliyah and Ben were renting in the Waikato when they were told by their landlord that they needed to move out.
An overseas trip and a short timeframe to find new accommodation put a big stress on the young couple.
Aaliyah remembers thinking “I never want to be in this position again.”
The couple moved in with Ben’s parents in Auckland and shortly after enrolled in the Sorted Kāinga Ora programme.
Sorted Kāinga Ora was developed by Te Puni Kōkiri and the Commission for Financial Capability to build the financial capability of whānau so they can make choices about how to meet their housing aspirations and to help them take control of their finances.
The programme is delivered free to whānau by certified facilitators from rōpū Maori across the country.
It includes eight workshops followed by a navigation period to support whānau to develop and implement their plans.
The Armstrong whānau, including Ben’s parents, took part in the online workshops during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, and while Aaliyah was pregnant with baby Leo.
“I really enjoyed the course because everything gets broken down bit by bit and you really get a good understanding of the whole process,” Aaliyah says.
Not only did she learn tools to make her housing dreams a reality, but Aaliyah says the course has allowed her to reconnect with her iwi and whakapapa.
“I now really want to learn te reo Māori and I want my baby to go to kōhanga,” she says.
After completing the course, Aaliyah and Ben began looking at their options for home ownership and found that a shared ownership model would work for them.
With support from the NZ Housing Foundation, the couple have bought a shared ownership whare at the Waikato Tainui Kaarearea Housing Development in Hamilton.
This model of progressive home ownership means the whānau and iwi jointly own the home to start with, and over 15 years the whānau have the opportunity to buy the iwi share so they own the home outright.
Aaliyah says the whole process was challenging but once they found a whare that worked for them, everything “just fit.”
Auckland based facilitator from Ochre Business, Leisa Nathan, says the programme is normally delivered kanohi ki te kanohi, but COVID-19 has allowed for the programme to be delivered online.
“It really helps our whānau get ready for homeownership in a way that they are walked through the whole process step by step,” she says.
Aaliyah, Ben and five-month-old baby Leo are preparing to move into their brand-new whare in April.
“I’m just really looking forward to having our own space where it’s just the three of us,” Aaliyah says.
Her best advice to young people who feel as though home ownership is out of reach is to make the most of the support and resources available.
“We are a new generation and we need to take up the opportunities that are out there.”