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Purpose and summary

This paper explores the changes in tenure patterns (home ownership and renting) between 1986 and 2013, but focuses particularly on changes within the Māori and Pacific populations. We also look briefly at tenure patterns for earlier years in order to show the contrasting patterns in home ownership for Māori and the rest of the population. We explore whether the differing age structure of the Māori and Pacific peoples populations may contribute to their lower home-ownership rates, relative to the general population.

While there is some variability within the different Pacific populations, this paper concentrates on tenure at the highest level of the ethnic classification.

See iwi by tenure holder, 2001, 2006 and 2013 Censuses for more information about iwi and home ownership.

Most of the data on which this report is based comes from the Census of Population and Dwellings but we have also used data from other sources (eg General Social Survey and Quotable Value).

Definitions used in this paper

This paper uses both household and individual home ownership. Although they both measure home ownership, they can be quite different. At the household level, ownership relates to the household in which a person lives (whether the household owns their dwelling or holds it in a family trust). This is the household home-ownership rate – we have gathered statistics on this topic since 1916.

Since 2001 we have also collected information about individual home ownership (whether an individual owns the dwelling in which they live). While a household may own their dwelling, not all people in that household may share ownership of that dwelling. For example, a young person aged 15 years living in a dwelling owned by their parents should write 'Not owned' to the tenure holder question – because they do not own that dwelling themselves.

In census statistics, a household consists of one person usually residing alone, or two or more people usually residing together in a private dwelling; visitors are excluded.

Rather than attempting to define a Māori or Pacific household, we look at the tenure of households in which Māori and Pacific people live. An individual may have more than one ethnicity and there may be people from more than one ethnicity within a household. We also look at individual home ownership for Māori and Pacific people.

Key findings

The proportion of all people in households living in an owner-occupied dwelling fell from 75.2 percent to 63.7 percent between 1986 and 2013, a decline of 15.3 percent.

Conversely, the proportion of the population living in dwellings that were not owned increased from around one-quarter to over one-third of the population (24.8 percent to 36.3 percent), a 46.4 percentage increase.

The proportion of children aged under 15 years living in dwellings that were not owned increased even more between 1986 and 2013, from 26.1 percent of children to 43.1 percent, a 65 percent increase. This occurred at a time when the proportion of children in the population fell from around one-quarter to just over one-fifth of the population.

  • For Pacific people and Māori, the proportion of their populations living in an owner-occupied dwelling fell at a faster rate than for the total population (down 34.8 percent and 20.0 percent, respectively).
  • In 1986, around half of Pacific and Māori children lived in an owner-occupied dwelling. By 2013, the proportions were 38.5 percent of Māori children and 28.4 percent of Pacific children.
  • The greatest fall in home ownership for was in the 1990s, when there was a prolonged recession and unemployment was high.

Home ownership fell in most areas, but differences emerge between rural and urban areas, and some territorial authority areas.

For the overall population, the proportion of people living in an owner-occupied dwelling fell the most in Hamilton and Tauranga cities, Ashburton district, and Auckland.

  • The percentage of rural Māori living in an owner-occupied dwelling increased about 10 percent between 1986 and 1991, and was largely unchanged until the 2000s. Between 2001 and 2013, the proportion of rural Māori living in an owner-occupied dwelling fell 11.8 percent, compared with a 7.1 percent drop in urban areas. This is despite a general ageing of the rural population, relative to urban areas. In 1986, the median age of Māori, in urban and rural areas, was 19.2 years and 20.6 years, respectively. By 2001, it was 21.4 years and 24.0 years; by 2013 it was almost a four-year gap (at 23.3 years and 27.1 years, respectively).
  • Between 1991 and 2013, the percentage of Māori living in an owner-occupied dwelling declined most in: Whangarei (down 39.5 percent, Rotorua (down 38.6 percent), Hastings (down 38.2 percent), Tauranga (down 37.6 percent), and Southern Auckland (down 37 percent).
  • By territorial authority area, the largest falls for Māori between 1986 and 2013 were in Tauranga city (down 38.6 percent), Carterton district (down 31.0 percent), Rotorua district (down 30.8 percent), and Hastings city (down 30.0 percent).
  • In contrast, the proportion of Māori living in an owner-occupied dwelling increased in Wellington and Poirirua cities and some South Island areas.

Between 1986 and 2013, for Pacific peoples, the proportion living in an owner-occupied dwelling fell almost 40 percent in Auckland and Christchurch urban areas, and around 14 percent in the total Wellington urban area (ie Porirua, Lower and Upper Hutt, and Wellington urban zones).

Even when adjusted for the differing age structure in the populations, large disparities in individual home-ownership rates remain. The age-adjusted individual home-ownership rate for Māori in 2013 was 35.0 percent and the age-adjusted Pacific peoples’ rate was 24.4 percent.

As home-ownership rates have fallen, more people are living in rental housing. The proportion of housing occupied rent-free has also fallen since the 1980s. As home-ownership rates declined, Māori and Pacific people were increasingly living in properties rented from private landlords, businesses, or trusts.

  • Since 1986, the proportion of Māori living in private rentals increased more than for the total population (up 88.3 percent and 42.7 percent, respectively). The increase for Pacific people was 58.5 percent.
  • In 1986, 8 percent of people with Māori ethnicity who did not own their dwelling lived in a dwelling that was either free with a job, or loaned without payment. For Māori in rural areas, this was around one-third of all dwellings that were not owned. At the 2013 Census, just over 5 percent of Māori people in households that did not own their dwelling lived in a rent-free dwelling.

People living in one-parent families have very low home-ownership rates.

  • Looking at individual home ownership, the lowest rates were for Māori and Pacific people living in a one-parent family, with or without others, and in multi-person households.

In 2013, even when adjusted by age, disparities remained in home-ownership rates.

In 2013, the unadjusted home-ownership rate for Māori adults in one-parent families was 12.1 percent. When adjusted by age, it rises to 15.7 percent. For Pacific people in one-parent families, the rates were 9.6 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively.

Māori and Pacific people also have lower rates of household wealth.

  • Residential property (including family home, holiday homes, and investment property) is the major wealth source for many households/individuals (Thorns, 1998).
  • Lower home-ownership rates may affect an individual’s ability to accumulate wealth.
  • In the 2009/10 Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE) Māori were 13 percent of the population but owned 5 percent of the net worth. Pacific people owned 1 percent of the nation’s wealth through all SoFIE waves but were around 5 percent of the population.

Structure of the paper

The 1980s and 1990s were a period of considerable economic and social change within New Zealand. Home ownership peaked in 1991, but had fallen by the time of the 1996 Census. This decline has continued.

We consider the following questions in this paper.

  • Has the change in home-ownership rates for Māori or Pacific people between the 1980s and 2013 been similar to the national pattern?
  • Have changing home-ownership rates for Māori and Pacific varied by region or urban/rural location?
  • Are the differing tenure patterns related to the different age composition of Māori and Pacific populations?
  • How have the types of rented dwellings changed for Māori and Pacific people since the 1980s?
  • What are the implications of the fall in home-ownership rates for Māori and Pacific people?
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