Unlocking home ownership aspirations for iwi housing – BNZ and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei collaborate on papakāinga development

24 new whānau homes are under construction on Hawaiki St, Ōrākei in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, thanks to a new funding framework which enables lending for housing on iwi land. Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) collaborated with the central Tāmaki tangata whenua, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, in the development of the framework.

Under the new model, hapū members who meet BNZ’s normal home lending criteria can secure a BNZ home loan for papakāinga housing on land owned by the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust at standard home loan interest rates.

“The framework has made home ownership more accessible for our whānau,” says Grant Kemble, CEO of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Rawa. “BNZ’s commitment to work alongside us, understand our vision, and persevere through complex legal arrangements has been commendable.”

“For our people that will move into these new homes, it will be the realisation of a dream: the security of home ownership on their whenua.”

Historically, obtaining finance for housing on Māori owned land has been challenging. The unique ownership structure and restrictions on land transferability often meant that it couldn’t be used as security for loans, creating a significant barrier for Māori home ownership.

To address this, the new framework employs standard leasehold mortgage lending practices, underpinned by a confidential Deed of Understanding. This ensures that in the face of any challenges, the land integrity and control is preserved with the iwi or hapū, in this case Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, who would take over in the event of a distressed mortgage. This approach balances the bank’s security requirements with the enduring land rights of the iwi.

Developing the model involved significant legal work, which was undertaken with advice and guidance from Buddle Findlay and Russell McVeagh, who provided pro bono legal support to help enable the solution.

BNZ believes the framework may hold promise for broader application among other iwi and the approach has been shared with other banks in the hopes that it will help expand access to finance for development on Māori land across New Zealand.

BNZ CEO Dan Huggins says the prosperity of Māori, and Māori businesses, is vital to the prosperity of Aotearoa.

“BNZ is committed to growing the social, cultural and financial wellbeing of all New Zealanders, and our collaboration with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is part of our wider strategy to facilitate financial solutions for Māori which enable Māori people and businesses to prosper.

“Considerable thought has been invested in designing this framework to be as flexible as possible, and it has been shared with other financial institutions in the hope of extending its benefits to more iwi across New Zealand.

“We are committed to helping New Zealand and New Zealanders to thrive and prosper. Our collaboration with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is another example of how we can achieve this. We hope this example will help more iwi to assist their people into warm, dry homes of their own.”

Further bolstering the collaboration with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, BNZ has provided a $20 million social loan, certified by EY New Zealand, to support the construction of the homes. Ground has broken on site, with roofing expected to be laid before the summer holidays. Completion of the homes is expected in 2024.