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Building papakainga on your whenua

Being able to build papakainga on your whenua is a great way for Maori to feel reconnected with their turangawaewae. This article provides a general overview of what Maori face when they want to build papakainga and is set out as answers to some of the questions that we have had put to us.

What are papakainga?

“Papa” can refer to Papatūānuku (earth mother) and the connection of people to the land while “kainga” often translates to village or settlement but it also carries a deeper meaning akin to being a place of nourishment of the mind, body and soul. Bringing these words together, “papakainga” is a term used to describe a range of developments on Maori land that enable sustenance in a variety of forms. However, often the term is used when referring to residential development on Maori land.

Do you need a resource consent from Councils for building papakainga?

It depends on the local government planning provisions that apply to the area you want to develop papakainga on. Resource consent can vary depending on what Council you are applying to. For example, Gisborne, Whangarei and Hastings all have slightly different controls for papakainga. Taking Hastings District Council as an example, a resource consent is required if your proposal does not comply with one or more of the ‘permitted activity’ rules in the Hastings District Plan. Under the Hastings District Plan papakainga is a controlled activity. However, Whangarei District Council has been in the process of removing the need for resource consents for papakainga where they meet the threshold set out under a recent papakainga plan change provision. Although, resource consents may still be required where building falls outside that plan change provision.

Do Councils only consider legally related whanau?

This is a question that sometimes arises in relation to who can build on Maori land and more often than not the question is often posed in relation to whether whangai can build or succeed to interests in Maori land.

A whangai under the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act is a person adopted in accordance with Māori custom (rather than by legal adoption). Before an application is made to the Council for a papakainga development, whanau and owners of Maori land will have been through the Maori Land Court which has its own process to ensure succession orders, occupation orders, trust formation and the like are determined in order to establish entitlements to the whenua. In that forum, issues such as whangai entitlements may also be addressed. If there are issues surrounding ‘legally related whanau’ or whangai, the Maori Land Court will make a determination on whether the person has interests in the Maori land. Whatever that ruling is, the local Council will follow that decision in considering a papakainga application.

Are papakainga only for Maori?

Papakainga are developments on Maori land therefore you need to have a connection to that land in order to meet the requirements for building papakainga. As set out above, ownership and rights to Maori Land is determined by the Maori Land Court. The primary objective of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act is to promote the retention of land for Maori whanau and hapu and papakainga are an integral way of facilitating the connections for whanau back to their whenua tupuna.

Can there be multiple papakainga buildings on Maori land or can there only be one papakainga building?

Papakainga are usually going to cater for more than one dwelling in a designated papakainga area. The exact requirements will be subject to each District Council’s planning provisions which will identify how big a dwelling per square meter would be allowed in each designated papakainga area. In some cases though this will mean that one large papakainga building could be built or several, provided the footprint of the dwelling fits within the permitted square meter allowance.

Is there funding available for Maori?

Kiwibank and Housing New Zealand joined forces in 2010 to create ‘kāinga whenua loans’. Maori now have the ability to build, buy or relocate a house onto Maori land where you have a licence to occupy.

To qualify for the loan, Kiwibank has specific criteria that needs to be met. The difference between a kainga whenua loan and a mortgage is that the loan is secured against the house as opposed to the house and land. This helps to avoid issues in the past where banks have been sceptical to secure a loan against Maori land because of multiple ownership making it difficult to recover debt.

Other options may be available to fit your specific needs, contact us today for more information.

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