An Auckland iwi has become a property developer in one of the city's biggest and newest housing developments.
Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government and the Hobsonville Land Company to develop over 400 new homes.
This MOU is just a first step in the Crown's land development programme in the north-west of Auckland, where Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara has a right of first refusal to the land.
Once the home of the Hobsonville air base, a newly planned community with 3000 homes is planned for the 167 hectares of the upper Waitemata Harbour coastal land in West Auckland.
The iwi has acquired a small portion of the Hobsonville Point development, called Te Uru.
Margaret Kawharu, chair of Ngā Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara Trust's commercial arm, said the iwi was really keen on increasing its treaty settlement money.
"It's a nine hectare block and it's in four different sections and there is potential for 430 homes, a large proportion of which will be affordable homes.
"We'll have a footprint here which is really important for Ngāti Whātua, and be able to develop housing areas around our five marae. Those areas need to be built up," she said.
Fifteen percent of the homes were required to be sold below $450,000, 7.5 per cent below $500,000 and 7.5 per cent below $550,000, which Ms Kawharu recognised was still out of reach for some families.
"For many people it's not affordable, we're conscious of that, but it's the market that dictates that, but out of this we'll make some money which we'll bring home closer to the people."
This was a business venture for Ngāti Whatua o Kaipara - none of the houses are being set aside for tribal members.
Hobsonville Land Company chief executive Chris Aiken said the deal was greatly significant for Ngāti Whatua.
"There aren't very many 430 house deals done in Auckland ever, and so it's a significant deal for Ngāti Whātua, it also signifies the entry of Ngāti Whātua into the property development business, residential development business on a large scale."
The development was in Prime Minister John Key's electorate and he attended the signing today. He said it was a demonstration of iwi power.
"What a powerful force iwi is in New Zealand now as commercial operators who do very sensible, very pragmatic and good things for the community."
He also acknowledged the infrastructure to support the housing growth in Auckland still needed to be dealt with.
"The one bit of the picture that has to be dealt with is the infrastructure that supports the housing, and that is the role that the NZTA play in terms of transport, and in a certain degree the Ministry of Education in building schools."
This was the first property development and investment for Ngāti Whatua o Kaipara and it was being cautious but very optimistic, Ms Kawharu said.
"This is a whole new experience for Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara, when you settle it's like winning Lotto, overnight your whole life changes. So we have to be very careful and very prudent about the way we go into these things."
The development will be complete and houses ready for sale in 2018.