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Conclusion

Since 1991, New Zealand has experienced falling home-ownership rates. However, Māori and Pacific people have had greater falls in home ownership, at both individual and household levels. While the proportion of all people living in a dwelling they own fell 15.3 percent by 2013, the decline was much greater for Pacific people (down 34.8 percent) and Māori (down 20.0 percent).The disparity in home ownership between ethnic groups has therefore increased over time even when rates are standardised by age.

We can attribute the fall in home ownership to factors that include the current high price of housing, which began rising relative to incomes in the 1990s (Eaqub & Eaqub, 2015); lower incomes for Māori and Pacific people; and greater exposure to factors such as higher unemployment for Māori and Pacific people. Social factors might also be influential, such as lack of intergenerational experience of home ownership and, potentially, discrimination.

We thought exposure to Auckland’s housing market might be important in the sharp decline in home ownership. However, we found that overall, home ownership for Māori and Pacific people was lower than for most other ethnicities and had declined throughout New Zealand. Very few areas showed an upward trend in home ownership.

This decline in home ownership has occurred alongside a change in the structure of the rental housing market. Before the 1990s, a high proportion of people, particularly Māori, lived in rent-free housing. More Māori and Pacific people also lived in social housing, with income-related rents making this a very affordable option. Since 1990, increasing exposure to the private rental market, with its higher costs, has affected affordability – as data from the Household Economic Survey shows.

Renting is not just a phenomenon of youth; many people rent all their lives. In 2013, much higher proportions of children of Māori and Pacific ethnicity were living in rental housing than in 1986.

Rental housing tends to be of poorer quality and people in rental properties move more frequency. Moving through many schools can affect children’s development. As Eaqub & Eaqub (2015) and others suggest, work to improve both the quality and security of rental housing would have tremendous benefit for the population of renters.

What are the consequences of lower home-ownership rates? In New Zealand, much wealth is traditionally held in property. The decline in home ownership among Māori and Pacific people could affect their ability to accumulate wealth and pass it to the next generation. Because home ownership has declined at a greater rate for Māori and Pacific people than for the population as a whole, their existing disparity in wealth may increase.

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