Marae and emergency accommodation: a response to Auckland’s housing and rental shortage

Jacob Otter
Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit, RIMU
Publication date:

In the winter of 2016, marae in Auckland came to play a significant role in responding to Auckland’s housing crisis. Beginning with Te Puea Memorial Marae, marae opened their doors to vulnerable Auckland households – predominantly Māori – that had become homeless due to rising rental costs. The response of marae reflects their status within te ao Māori as an infrastructural embodiment of values that stem from tikanga and whakapapa, including manaakitanga and whānaunatanga.

In providing emergency shelter in the context of rising rental costs and homelessness, Te Puea Memorial Marae’s initiative can be seen as a further evolution of marae in response to the changing circumstances of Māori. Notable evolutionary moments that inform these initiatives include the emergence of urban marae in response to the urbanisation or rural Māori, and in the social support role the marae have played following natural disasters.

However, these instances of marae providing emergency housing support raises concern that marae can be over-relied on to support Māori, enabling systemic and structural causes for homelessness to be overlooked. This paper seeks to pre-empt such sentiments arising in Auckland by encouraging understandings of these marae initiatives in the context of the role that they serve, without deflecting attention from the need for greater support.

Auckland Council discussion paper DP2017/003

Last updated: 2017-11-27