Dr Jessica Hutchings (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Huirapa, Gujarati), Kaupapa Māori Research Leader in the fields of environmental and Indigenous studies and Tumu Whakarae for The Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora National Science Challenge shares her kōrero on the importance of Kaupapa Māori research paradigms and methodologies in unlocking solutions to the Māori housing crisis.

At a recent Shift Aotearoa conference, Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua kaupapa Māori research evidence was presented which showed that since 1991 and the disestablishment of state support for housing in Aotearoa, there has been a rapid decline in Māori home ownership. The research concluded that if the government does not make structural interventions at the economic level, Māori will be almost entirely a population of renters by 2061, with even fewer pathways to homeownership available than there are today.

With all the positive strides we have made, increasing access and removing barriers for Māori in their pathway toward and through tertiary education, whether that be at polytech, university or wānanga, our concern and challenge is that the potential and success of tauira Māori may not extend or be realised in their achieving home ownership following their studies.

The current and predicted situation for whānau Māori, the result of both colonisation and of the impact of neoliberal policies over the last 35 years, is totally unacceptable. In order to address this crisis, and prevent these dire predictions from becoming a reality, structural economic injustices which have disproportionately impacted Māori must be addressed and kaupapa Māori epistemologies must be adopted in exploring solutions by Māori, for Māori, and with Māori.

Through kaupapa Māori research, as Māori, we have the ability to tell our own stories, outside of how Pākehā or western research methods and economic frameworks might describe our circumstances for us.

Kaupapa Māori research paradigms and methodologies were at the forefront during the 1980s and 1990s for the establishment of Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori, Whare Wānanga Māori, and then eventually Wharekura in Aotearoa. Just as interventions with Kaupapa Māori research were able to create lasting, positive change in education, it is my view and that of my colleagues that the same kind of transformational interventions for Kaupapa Māori research into education, must be adopted in exploring solutions to the Māori housing crisis.

Our focus needs to be on papakāinga and hauora, the relationship between housing and wellbeing for Māori. We need to think about diverse economic solutions and get away from the prevailing conception of housing as being a way to build capital and continue to make the rich richer in this country and abroad. We need to think of housing as economic infrastructure. We need to acknowledge the relationship between housing and Māori as one involving a people displaced and rendered landless as a result of colonisation.

The Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora National Science Challenge is committed to encouraging and privileging Kaupapa Māori methodologies in their ability to unlock the potential for Māori knowledge and to offer solutions for the Māori housing crisis. But Māori must not shoulder all the responsibility for solving this problem. This problem will only be solved in partnership with governments (local, regional, and central) in forming interventions so that we can begin to dial back the impact of neoliberal reforms over the last 35 years.