The smiling assassin was back at her best yesterday with an incentivised plan to lure Samoan and Tongan families out of Auckland to places where those communities were supposedly growing and strong. It fits with National’s housing solutions in that it provides no immediate plan to build more affordable housing in Auckland where the need is, and no support for those families that will take up the offer regarding long term employment opportunities. So, typical of a government keen to keep house prices sky-high, their answer is to move people away from their social networks. Dislocated communities need social services support, raised community engagement and good local connections to give them the chance to thrive in new places. Disturbingly, Bennett (nor Tolley for that matter) made no comments on those key issues yesterday.
I wonder if Bennett read or learned much as minister of Social Development. About things like the correlation between un/employment and un/stable accommodation; the costs of commuting to work near where you live; poor accommodation and high family transience or even the health impacts on children of cold, damp housing. Jeepers! Did she read anything? Throwing money at people on a housing wait list is a short-sighted, temporary and ill informed solution on people it will have an enduring impact on. Pasifika families thrive in settings where people are happy, connected, warm and able to take up opportunities that give them confidence and reward. Something probably true for all social groups.
In 1964 Auckland’s home ownership figures stood at just over 50 per cent. Its generally lifted since then and is well above that today. Pasifika home ownership in the most recent 2013 census sits at about 32 per cent – light years behind a stat recorded more than half a century ago. So 50 years ago when 1 in 2 Aucklanders owned a home the answer was to dupe us out of Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Westmere and Kingsland to parts of the city I know best. Places like Otara, Henderson, Mangere, Glen Innes and Ranui. But now that we’ve been shut out of home ownership in the suburbs of Auckland, the new plan is to pay our fares and relocation costs (or more correctly, removal costs) to Oamaru and Ashburton. This is not a long term solution but just another quick bandaid approach… and I’ve already heard the righteous bandwagon of people thru my office this morning saying we should just be grateful. At a guess and granted this now emerging pattern of government response to the issue… the south pole will be the next migration wave for Pasifika and migrant communities.