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Maangere Housing Stories #4:

Jo Latif sat down with MAU Studio to discuss her journey with the Maangere Housing Advocacy Group and what motivates her to advocate for genuine community engagement with Maangere residents when building in Maangere.

"My journey with the Maangere Housing Advocacy Group started in 2019 while I was working at Maangere College. The Kāinga Ora development on the corner of Bader Drive and McKenzie popped up, and the community was really concerned. Aupito Su'a William Sio (former Maangere MP) called the community to see if anyone wanted to be in a housing group. People had to volunteer, and you applied through a form you filled out. I was selected along with Vicki Sykes, Harry Toleafoa, Hone Fowler, Helen Tua, Campbell Roberts, Ronji Tanielu, Lama Tone, Peter Stowers and Bill Peace — who are all a collection of really passionate, really skilled people in our community with experience with the housing sector.

We all started trying to understand what was happening and ensure we could connect with Kāinga Ora (HLC - Homes, Land, Communty back then). We wanted HLC to understand our frustrations and concerns about their housing developments. It's been a long journey of ups and downs, such as the restructuring of HLC to Kainga Ora and the constant changes in their staff, which made it harder for our group to ensure our message was heard.

But what has been good is that Kāinga Ora is now starting to understand the importance of engaging with community groups like ours more meaningfully before they begin the design and build process.

I can see that Kāinga Ora’s Māngere Development team have been trying to work alongside our group even though they can be constrained by different government policy changes.

But my ultimate message to our new government and Kāinga Ora is that we need housing that reflects the changing needs of people’s lives. I know the Government might look at housing developments as simply a numbers game but it would help if instead they looked at who lives in these homes and how it will impact the wider community. Many homes are not ideal for multi-generational families or aren’t suited to people with disabilities and as our population ages, the importance of housing that values the changing needs of our communities will be so important. It’s also so crucial for there to be more outdoor and green spaces connecting our families and neighbourhoods to allow for greater access to healthy living. So if we build our homes right from the beginning, it will save our Government money in the long run.

If we aren't looking after the most vulnerable in our society, we all suffer. By engaging meaningfully with residents and allowing us to be part of the decision-making process, only then will we have a healthier society - and a healthier Maangere."

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