The Salvation Army is setting a high bar for social housing. We are not only building desperately needed homes for those with a serious and severe need for housing, but we are supporting whānau to live fulfilling lives within an inclusive community, by creating a space they can truly call ‘home’.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Minister of Housing Megan Woods will open two newly built developments at Westgate and Flatbush in Auckland, on Thursday 3 June, bringing to three the number of social housing projects built by the Army since 2019.
These developments differ from social housing as we know it: each home is highly energy efficient, has whānau-centred design, and is part of a complex that incorporates community facilities, chaplaincy support where needed and excellent tenancy management. The homes are designed first and foremost to foster a supportive community, with plenty of room for groups to gather, including garden spaces.
Added to this is the ongoing support of the Army’s suite of services designed to strengthen relationships and encourage whanaungatanga.
Two-thirds of those living in the homes have already been helped through Salvation Army services, with the remaining third referred by outside agencies. We see an increasing number of whānau with a severe need for housing – serious medical conditions, poverty caused by increasingly high rents, food poverty, lack of stability for schooling and employment, and the stress caused by emergency housing. Sadly, these include a parent with terminal cancer who was living with two children in a one-bedroom motel unit and one client who was living with 12 others in a two-bedroom house. A new, warm, dry, modern home is a dream come true for these whānau.
The openings take our investment in new social housing to three new communities, encompassing 118 one and two-bedroom homes. We know this is only scratching the surface. We believe every New Zealander has the right to live with dignity in appropriate, secure and warm housing.
This type of housing truly turns lives around. Having a home allows people to obtain stable employment and education. It stops children being moved from school to school as tenants are forced out of their rental homes by landlords selling in this hot housing market. Some of our tenants have had to separate from their children for housing, so that their tamariki and their education are not disrupted.
We are also seeing increasing need from older people and pensioner whānau, many of whom are living with extended family in overcrowded accommodation, placing an enormous strain on relationships.
Another group in need is single fathers, who are often overlooked by landlords.
The Salvation Army is determined to tackle head-on the chronic lack of housing in New Zealand. We are extremely happy to partner with companies like Generate Kiwisaver, who have invested in the Salvation Army Bond through the impact-investing platform Community Finance. Impact investment refers to investments made into companies, organisations, assets and funds with the intention to generate a positive social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.
International human rights law recognises everyone’s right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing. The Salvation Army believes that with this responsibility it is imperative to help people into homes, not houses.
Te Hononga Tāngata – (The collection/gathering of people)
This is the name of our Royal Oak housing community. This name encompasses the Four Winds, hence each block is named after those winds. But the name is also about what we do and how we do this in a community that we serve.
This name is more than just bringing people together, it is about creating safe, warm and caring communities where people—no matter what walks of life they come from—are not judged and have somewhere they can call home.
Te Hononga Tāngata is where our journey begins and is aligned with The Salvation Army’s mission of: ‘Caring for people, transforming lives and reforming society by God’s power’. By creating homes and communities we are ‘transforming lives’ of those in need.
The next phase in our journey, and where our waka will take us, is Westgate. We have brought together the people and started ‘transforming lives’, now it is about ‘caring for people’. Therefore, the name that has been given to Westgate is: Te Manaaki Tāngata – (Support/take care/show respect/look out for/give hospitality to the people).
This name was gifted to our Westgate housing by one of our whānau who resides within Te Hononga Tāngata. This name encompasses the mission that co-founders of The Salvation Army, William and Catherine Booth, wanted for those less fortunate, by standing alongside and caring for people in all situations. This name is kaitiaki (guardianship) of their legacy and embraces all that we do by caring for people both great and small, supporting whānau through highs and lows, while maintaining respectful relationships.
The third phase of our journey is where our waka has taken a U-turn and is heading back to our whenua in East/South Auckland. We have been ‘transforming lives’, we are ‘caring for people’, we are now carrying on the Booth’s vision by becoming ‘the guardians and protectors’ of our whenua and whānau.
Kaitiakitanga – (Guardianship and Protection)
Our Flatbush housing has been given the name Kaitiakitanga. Kaitiaki means guardian and can be a person or group that cares for an area such as whenua (land).
In Māori world view, people are closely connected to the land and nature. Kaitiakitanga is based on this idea of humans as part of the natural world. As mentioned earlier (Te Manaaki Tāngata), William and Catherine Booth became kaitiaki for all those they walked alongside who were less fortunate. They recognised there were disparities between the rich and poor, and, since 1883, The Salvation Army has fought poverty and social and spiritual distress.
It felt right for the name Kaitiakitanga to be given to Flatbush. This is one of our biggest Social Housing communities, where we will house more families here in Tāmaki Makaurau. Our whānau who will move into these whare will become the kaitiaki, where they will become the guardians and protectors of the whenua that the whare sits on, the hapori (community) they live in and the whānau—their own and those that live in the community. Kaitiakitanga is the overall principle that will embrace Te Hononga Tāngata and Te Manaaki Tāngata.
For enquiries contact: The Salvation Army Territorial Media Officer, 021 945 337, email: firstname.lastname@example.org