Developing a papakāinga on your whenua Māori can be a long process, but there's help available as you work through it.
Developing a papakāinga on your whenua can be a way to help whānau with quality affordable housing and to provide ongoing accommodation and/or revenue for future generations.
Papakāinga also reflect a whānau support system — the kāinga are more than physical structures. They provide opportunities for whānau to strengthen connections between generations, reinforce cultural and spiritual identities, and revitalise Te Reo Māori.
However, barriers like planning restrictions, lack of infrastructure and getting consent from multiple owners can make development a long and sometimes difficult process.
For some landowners it can be a multi-generational venture, so it's good to involve rangatahi in the process too.
When we talk about a papakāinga on this website, we mean a group of 3 or more houses, built on whenua Māori, operating as an intentional community according to kaupapa Māori.
It can take several years to even get to build stage, but it should be quicker if you're organised, have a governance structure in place and have good whānau engagement.
We’ve pulled out the key steps here:
1. Whānau planning — around 12 months mahi
2. Workshops and research — around 6 months mahi
This step requires you to undertake research, learning and gathering of information about your land, its governance, and the whānau who might want to live there.
Your detailed research and investigation will give you confidence that your papakāinga housing development is viable and will identify any likely barriers.
3. Project planning — around 6 months mahi
With the information you have gathered from steps 1 and 2, owners and trustees are in a better position to engage professional services and get technical advice.
This involves getting technical reports, considering site options, technical design details and associated costs.
4. Due diligence — around 3 months mahi
This is when you'll work with any funding providers to negotiate funding. They'll do a thorough assessment of your project and will expect to see things like:
- business case and project plan
- resource and building consents
- cost estimates and quotes
- projected ongoing operating costs and revenue for the papakāinga
- project management details.
5. Building and project management — around 18 months mahi
With all your funding, project plans and consents in place, infrastructure and building work can get underway. It's good to get any building contracts checked by your lawyer.
6. Maintenance and management — ongoing mahi
The mahi doesn't stop when building work is finished. There will be new responsibilities for the trust to manage as landlord of the papakāinga. There will be ongoing mahi managing and maintaining the houses and working with tenants.
You can find more information in:
These toolkits also outline in detail the steps and rules you'll need to follow for specific regions.
Te Piringa is a papakāinga in the rural community of Waiohiki, 10km south of Napier.
The papakāinga has three homes and infrastructure for two more.
It is home to three generations of the Hawaikirangi whānau.
Rapihana Te Kaha Hawaikitangi – Kaitiaki of Te Piringa Papakāinga: This is whānau land, whenua toto, and yeah, we’ve been fortunate enough to reside on whenua where our koro grew up in.
Hinewai Hawaikirangi - Kaitiaki of Te Piringa Papakāinga: We haven’t always lived here and grown up here, but we always knew we’re going to end up here.
I think we as siblings knew we wanted to live together, and we knew the only place we could really do that was here, on our koro’s land.
When we first learnt about the papakāinga fund through Te Puni Kōkiri this was our opportunity to really realise our dream.
Te Puni Kōkiri funded the planning of our papakāinga, the infrastructure, everything below the ground, and then they also helped us with funding part of the above the ground build.
Karen Hawaikirangi - Kaitiaki of Te Piringa Papakāinga: We all have this common goal and we work towards that, particularly Hinewai and Te Kaha. They’ve worked really hard. It’s awesome, aye boo-boos? (looks towards little girl). Mmm humm. (laughs).
She comes and has breakfast sometimes. What’s your favourite? Cornies!
Rapihana Te Kaha Hawaikitangi: It’s pretty special. Still a bit of a pinchy moment to be able to live on the whenua.
You know, the maunga’s only a stone’s throw away, the awa, the marae. So, when you, I guess, when you recite your pepeha and you’re living right next to those things that you recite, it’s pretty special.
Hinewai Hawaikirangi: You know, ko Otatara te maunga, ko Hikurangi te maunga, ko Tutaekuri te awa – to us it’s to say we are kaitiaki of these things because our hands are dirty, and you can’t get your hands dirty unless you’re there.
And so, for us it’s embodying our pepeha. It’s getting up there. Yes, these are words but behind these words there is action. And that’s what papakāinga has enabled us to do.
So, it was all about connecting and being together and being close and what’s why we came up with our papakāinga name, Te Piringa. It’s just an unbelievable experience to go through. The skills as a whānau, the experience we’ve had is invaluable and we will forever be thankful to all of those who have helped us along the way because we will be here looking after this place as kaitiaki for many generations to come.
Text: Oraruwharo Papakāinga - A Whānau Journey
Text: Succeeding Shares
Ivan Hauraki - Oraruwharo Ahu Whenua Trust Chair
The whenua was farmed by my grandfather. I don't know how long ago, but a very long time ago. And then when he passed away, it just sat there for a while until my mum and her sister succeeded to it. They had a brother who had passed away as well. So they succeeded on his behalf. So that land you know, will start to come forward and they just used the systems available there through the Māori land court with their cousins and their uncles and aunties to transfer shares around so that they ended up with this block, which is 9.3 hectares.
What I can see there and it's a question that's sort of ask me all the time is that the opportunity is there because you have the whenua. But you know, we unfortunately we have, not a very good record in being able to come to an agreement as Māori on what to do with it. So, you know, the first thing that we got to do is settle down.
Text: Agreement and a plan
It's a matter of you can be around here arguing about your whenua in 15 years time and it's still got gorse and ti tree on it. Or, you can come to an agreement and end up with something like this in three or four years. You know, basically it all comes back to an agreement on the whenua. You know, when you can't agree about it, it just lingers on and on and on.
But I think at the early stages, if you have a plan on how you might be able to get these people together, you know, you've got to have the person that can put that together and try to motivate everyone and get on the same waka.
Text: Setting up governance
So first of all, we said, okay, we've got we've got whenua, we have nothing else. We don't even have a bank account. You know, because we weren't anything. And so our first step was to work out how we were going to go about this. We were aware of funding and the agencies, TPK and other things like that. We're aware of that. So the idea to find out how do we get there? And it become apparent very quickly that you had to be a certain type of trust before they would talk to you.
Text: Ahu Whenua Trust, Whenua Tōpū Trust, Māori Reservation
So an Ahu Whenua trust was the way to go. That was one of the options when we did set out to get the Ahu Whenua trust set up. My idea was, and because of my background, I didn't want to talk to 180 people. So my family and like my mum's family, me and my siblings and our kids and our mokos, we had already had a whānau trust set up.
So we succeeded to her shares into that trust. So I went and talked to my cousins and explained to them what we had done and if that was an option they could follow and they agreed with it. Now all I had and the two brothers were my uncles. Now all I had, instead of maybe 180 owners, we had four owners, the two whānau Trusts and the two brothers.
So that didn't single out a lot of people. It just made it better for us to work with. We still listened to what beneficiaries said, saying we had a lot of input from there that we considered as we went along. So it just had to help us to make decisions quicker. It helped us that we didn't have to have meetings all the time with big crowds.
It just meant that I had to deal with because I was leading the project. By then, I had to deal with just more trustees. But, you know, whānau’s are big. And even in a whānau of 200 people, there's got to be two people in there that can lead. You just got to find those people, have the meeting, keep the minutes because you'll have to present those to court.
Text: Court Preparation
So we went down that process, had the meetings, there was two or three of them so that we could, you know, have all our applications filled out and filed into the court in for sitting. If you do it properly at the start, then you would get there and you wouldn't have much issues with the judge saying that you need to do this, that or the other thing.
Sometimes you can go there and the judge doesn't like anything he sees, so you just got to go away and start again.
Text: Whānau Whenua Whare
But when I turned up at Te Puni Kōkiri and started talking with them, showing them all our trust deeds and everything like that, there was, there was a little bit more stuff to do as far as the trustees were concerned. But basically we had a foot in the door so people would sit down and listen to us now.
As you can understand, as Māori you know, you had a lot of people right at the start scratching their head and saying, oh, I don't know about this. You know, can it happen? You know? And then as they saw the process going far and then when I finally got an answer back from Te Puni Kōkiri that they would be funding us, and I showed the whānau the letter, then all of a sudden, everyone, you know, that was the best time for me when everyone realised it was going to happen.
It hadn't happened. It was a long way from happening. But to get everyone on board before we even dug any ground up that was pretty good. I wanted people to know whether government ministers, government agencies, that us as Māori we can bring something like this. We can achieve something like this, like any other developer, you know, you don't have to be a developer, but as Māori doing a papakāinga we can, you know, and that's to me that's a big thing is that people don't trust us, people don't believe in us.
And I had to show them this is what we can achieve as Māori.
Text: Oraruwharo Papakāinga - Building the Dream
Ivan Hauraki - Oraruwharo Ahu Whenua Trust Chair
We wanted housing. Okay, now there's 180 people in our whānau that could do with housing. So we had to break it down. So we had to set up a kaupapa on how we could manage that. So we were more concerned about our old people living in cities. You know, they live in, the ones that come back here living in Auckland, Whangārei, Tauranga, Whakatāne, you know, all over the place.
And the idea and you know, unfortunately for Māori homeownership just got hard and for a lot of other reasons, you know people are moving through the systems and getting to 60 or 65 without homes living in rental accommodation, you know, which was spiraling up and the stressors that go with that and not knowing if the landlord's going to come along and say the house is sold and you've got to move on.
So, you know, the idea for me was to get our old people out of that situation into a better environment. And for me, wellbeing is probably the biggest part of everything. And to make sure that they were in a place like this where they might be paying rent, it's a very small amount of rent, but in actual fact they all own these houses, they own the whenua, they’re all beneficiaries to this place.
And it's just wanting to get them away from those stressful things and back into here, which we've achieved, which we've achieved. At the same time, we're also looking forward, looking ahead to try and get our younger generations to be able to build on this whenua as well. So we do have another stage coming up that we're going to have younger, more professional people.
You know, there's a few boxes they need to tick, but at the same time, they just, you know, they've got to be able to handle a mortgage and all that normal things, you know, if you take the whenua out of any house cost you're almost taking a third of the cost away. And then if you build like this, it becomes affordable and we can help them to achieve that.
Text: Feasibility and Infrastructure
We went through a feasibility study for funding first, so I got that funding. So we were able to put everything together. And then when it come to the normal process would have been infrastructure. And then beyond that, it's the capital build. He helped me set up my application for feasibility and at the same time it was a lot of the information and that was what we needed for resource consent.
So we put those two together and we got an application, all the same information and a resource consent out of that. And that was because Steve had the knowledge and on how to go about doing that. You don't want the place breaking down in five or six, seven years time. You know, we spent a massive amount of money on our infrastructure and our infrastructure was also futureproofed.
So what I build up there and we can fit right into the infrastructure that's already here. So plan it properly if you intend to extend onto it, which we know we were going to do. So we made sure we had the right sized pipes that could cope with the wastewater coming from up top into our wastewater treatment plant. Down the back.
The stormwater is the same. We had caps of up there that we can just open up and fit in the stormwater again as we go. So the power is running past there we got plinths that the houses hook into, so all the infrastructure for our future is completed.
Text: The Tripartite Agreement
They are the guarantors. So you go to kiwibank. Okay. You submit your application or whatever, and then you've got to go to or it's a triangle between kiwibank, Kāinga Ora because at the end of the day Kiwibank don't look to you for a guarantor. They looking at Kāinga Ora, they become the guarantors.
Text: The Build
In a normal business world. Time and money is the two things that matter. You waste time, you waste money, you save time, you save money.
So I said, Oh, well, okay, what do I want to do here? I want to get this built and outta here if it falls for me. So how was I going to do that? That's when I said, okay, we're going to use a design and build. First of all, the designs are these just go through a book, got 36 Plans in there, pick out what you want. I probably had a look at three other design and builds before I decided on advance.
They had two advantages. I like the product and staff. I think it was better than anything else I saw. Their back up service and what they were telling me and from what I knew was, you know, top line. And they were local.
Text: Growing the whenua
We, right at the start allocated two hectares to housing. So it was probably about two hectares in native bush and what have you. And we think we can utilise maybe four hectares of that and we have a plan or program that's going to start building an avocado orchard through there in those four hectares and with that is just going to provide a sustainable financial future for this place and then employment as well. But the idea is that somewhere in the future, not right now, but somewhere in the future that we'll bring our old people back here and they'll be able to live here free.
We have two documents that will apply to here. One is the trust deed through the courts and the other is our governance document. And it just gives simple rules and the thought behind it is that if there's ever a disagreement or an argument or something comes up in ten years time, two people don't have to stand there and argue about it.
You just go back to these documents and the answers there somewhere and just apply that to what you're doing. Yeah, so it's an important part of living in harmony, I'll say, you know, and to the standard that the trustees want, you know. So I mean, it's a beautiful place. You need it to be looked after and we need our mokopuna in 25 years time to be able to see the same thing.
Yeah. And this is one of the things that I talk about and when we lift the standards of papakāinga.
The Māori Housing Network can provide you with information, advice and identify potential sources of funding to help develop housing on your papakāinga.
The Kāinga Whenua Loan scheme provides loans to whenua Māori trusts and individuals with a right to occupy their multiple-owned Māori land.