Te noho whare is just as culturally significant to the Maori as their land. It is more than just a physical structure – it’s a space that protects communal assets and brings members of the iwi (tribe) or whanau (extended family) together. Traditionally, it’s a place where members of a clan would gather and ask for support or advance strategies to defend the land.
Today, its importance is much bigger, as urbanisation and corporate interests pose new threats to its existence. This is why the Maori continues to fight for their land and te oho whare, so that future generations may live to experience the Maori way of living.
Unfortunately, the ancestral domains of the Maori are now out of their reach. However, iwi tribes throughout New Zealand furiously fight to preserve te noho whare; the physical structure and what it represents. The concept of te noho whare is still preserved even without the presence of the physical structure.
Housing Crisis and Legal Disputes
For many years, the Maori has constantly been fighting for affordable modern housing. Not many modern homes cater to their needs and financial situation. The stringent and expensive housing scheme has pushed many Maori families into poverty and homelessness.
While there have been many initiatives to make home ownership more affordable, there are still many towns, especially in the Far North communities that are neglected and needs more support. Not just housing, but also quality education, social services, healthcare and other whanau needs.
Iwi leaders call for the government to align their services with the needs of the whanau. Maori-owned groups and businesses are also working with Maori land lawyers to boost commercial operations and financial opportunities in neglected areas.
Having a common space has a special significance to the whanau, once that’s deeply rooted in their collective sensibility. More collaboration is needed between the private and public sector and the Maori to create programs to protect the land and other cultural assets for future generations.