Māori Development Minister, Te Ururoa Flavell, is outraged and has private landlords in his sights.
Te Ururoa Flavell was in the South Island this week and visited homes being rented by Māori families which he says are substandard and unacceptable.
The minister's first thought was to name and shame the landlords of these properties which he says are diabolical, however, the fear is the tenants may then be kicked out of their home and that is the reality he says for a number of families in Christchurch that if they complain they will either be evicted or their rents will be raised.
So the minister says he's looking at other ways to remedy the problem.
The Māori Party was at Ngatokowaru Marae today, a far cry from the substandard housing some families are having to endure in Christchurch.
Te Ururoa Flavell says, “The thing that really broke my heart was hearing from a mother who had three or four children and there were rats and birds still living within the house. When she contacted the agent, they did nothing.”
The Māori Party initiated the "Warrant of Fitness" initiative for state housing. They want that expanded to private rentals as well. Te Ururoa Flavell has spoken to the Finance Minister.
“One of the families raised their issues with the landlords and they were thrown out of the house. If they wanted to stay there the rent was to be increased by $100, that's what some of these crooks are doing,” says Flavell.
Kahureremoa Aki says, “Raise your concerns and rights with your landlord and if it remains unresolved then we are here to help across the country.”
Kahu Aki is a lawyer with specific knowledge regarding tenancy issues. She says there are a number of avenues where people can go for help, and yesterday Housing Minister Nick Smith launched a tenancy website.
“We will send letters and speak with the landlords about addressing the issues regarding the property,” says Aki.
The major concern for the minister is the children living in some of these houses, especially since winter is drawing closer.
Flavell says, “You hear about the struggles those in Christchurch face but it's not until you see it first-hand that you really appreciate the severity of the struggle and it's disheartening. These are Māori families, a mother and her children.”
Te Ururoa Flavell is looking to head back to Christchurch to meet.