The papakāinga opened in September 2020, bringing whānau back to their Waikato turangawaewae.
Poto Davies, Chairperson of Manawanui Development Ltd Partnerships, the commercial entity of the Trust, said it was a “no brainer” when whānau said they wanted to live on their own ancestral whenua.
“The simple condition was that you needed to come home to live. So that means bringing home your kids, bringing home all your kaumātua,” Poto said.
Te Puni Kōkiri supported the project with almost $1.4 million towards a feasibility study and infrastructure costs.
The 10 individual whare have access to communal facilities including a māra kai, garden facilities, a parking lot, access to clean water and a collective eco-friendly onsite wastewater system.
Poto said whānau living on the papakāinga know what their future is.
“They’re secure and they’ve got these beautiful homes to live in. Whānau know what they can offer other people too, in terms of guidance and being that example of saying ‘hey, we can do it too’”.
Tammy Tauroa, papakāinga project lead, said it was important to recognise that different whānau had different housing needs.
“The papakāinga would become our anchor, our anchor for balanced development in the future. We looked at a way of targeting specifically housing affordability and what whānau would be ready to take on a house and land package.
The Trust partnered with Westpac and GJ Gardner Homes to ensure whānau were supported into homeownership.
A shared equity arrangement with Westpac allowed whānau to own their own homes outright, while the iwi retains an ongoing lifetime interest in any future transactions.
Te Aroha Taute and Bodie Tihoi Taylor live on the papakāinga with their tamariki.
“When planning kicked off two years ago, we all gathered on the whenua. We could feel the momentum building so we both knew this was the one, so we flowed with it and here we are,” Te Aroha said.
Financially the whānau are better off after buying their whare than when they were renting.
“I’m a big believer that it takes a marae, it takes a papakāinga to raise a child. And I know our tupuna are celebrating with us,” Te Aroha said.