The Implications of a Recession for the Māori Economy

Māori Housing22

Summary: Māori home ownership rates are low and declining. The proportion of Māori in rental accommodation is much higher than for other ethnicities. Private sector rentals are increasing, placing pressure on low income whānau.


  1. Māori home ownership rates are low and declining, however most Māori still have a strong desire for homeownership. Conversely, the proportion of Māori in rental accommodation is much higher than is the case for other ethnicities. Māori are the Housing Corporation New Zealand’s (HNZC) largest applicant group and the second largest occupant group.
  2. Existing barriers to many Māori owning their own homes include:
    • low incomes;
    • high debt levels;
    • poor access to finance;
    • the cost of home ownership (particularly deposit levels, interest rates and purchase price);
    • inability to get and use information about home ownership;
    • inability to raise housing finance against multiple-owned land; and
    • inter-generational experience.
  3. Many Māori are:
    • more likely to be in overcrowded households;
    • more tolerant of varying levels of substandard housing;
    • marginalised from private rental accommodation opting to wait list for a Housing New Zealand Corporation house;
    • becoming long term tenants of Housing New Zealand Corporation; and
    • more likely to need an accommodation supplement.
  4. Between 1992 and 2006, the Māori home ownership rate fell disproportionately compared to that of European households. The Māori home ownership rate fell approximately 16%, and the European home ownership rate fell approximately 11%. Banks are now requiring higher deposits for home loans.
  5. The proportion of the Māori population living in crowded households was declining in 2008.23 However, this needs to be seen in the context of declining home ownership and an increasing demand for rental properties.
  6. Quantitative information on the quality of housing occupied by Māori is not available, but anecdotal evidence suggests that there is an issue of substandard housing for Māori in both urban and rural areas. People renting in rural areas are however more exposed to poor property conditions, lower levels of maintenance, and less choice.


22 Data based on Māori Housing Trend Report 2008, Housing New Zealand Corporation.
23 Māori Housing Trend Report 2008, Housing New Zealand Corporation.


  1. The main housing risks arising from the recession for Māori are that:
    • home ownership and good quality rental housing becomes less affordable as rents increase and incomes remain relatively static, or potentially decrease;
    • job security reduces for the employed, or is perceived to reduce;
    • unemployment increases;
    • the costs of personal debt increases;
    • other basic living costs such as food and power reduce the ability of Māori to pay for good quality rental housing and/or to save for homeownership;
    • increasing pressure is placed on available public housing; and
    • declining levels of home ownership reduce the associated inter-generational benefits for Māori.