Investing in whenua is not just financial resilience - it gives us space to heal

Inez White | 17 January, 2020

 

Over a 5 year period I've experienced consistent grief due to the loss of loved ones every year. Grief and healing can be debilitating. However, most employers only have to provide you with a few days a year of bereavement leave and sick leave. I don't know what I would've done if I had been employed over the last 5 years, because I've needed most of it to heal. My humble Airbnb, office building has provided the buffer to make this possible for me. Imagine what it could mean socio economically if more of our Māori communities, Pacific Island communities, families, in fact anyone, were home owners.

Renting out your property or AirBnb is like making a living from Manaakitanga, rather than trading my hours for $. This meant that I have been able to invest my hours into healing.

I'm no genius but from experience there were many times that I remember thinking that if this is the strain and despair I am experiencing in life (and I am a resourced, loved, supported, educated woman with Iwi connection), then imagine what a stressed, struggling person/family is feeling when they have to line up at WINZ just to apply for emergency housing each week is going through.

I think this may have been why I was experiencing what I have been; maybe a way to get me to feel what families and particularly Māori families are going through. Well, it keeps me going in this mahi that's for sure. I feel the need because I am one of the ones who needed help too.

As a property professional who has been trained and groomed in property since my 20's (Australia Valuation firms), I'm fortunate to have financial skills to fall back on during my raruraru (problems). My professional instincts would kick in and my brain would say "move everything in to one room and rent out the other" or "do I really need all that office space? I can rent it out". I have the trained ability to choose a rental income over my own personal comfort (earning cash no matter how small is King).

Up until recently I have only rented out one room for short term travelling guests, from $60 to $85 per night. For a time, my "job" was to wash the linen and tidy my whare everyday - I did this for months. No thinking, just moving, then rest and cry.

My small humble whare has very very few vacant nights. I made manaakitanga my mahi and my income, just a couple hours a day and a nice chat now and then. My manuhiri (guests) stayed with me, so I never had to go anywhere. I earned and my income paid for my living. Nothing huge, but definitely enough to not have to have a JOB and just focus on healing my life. It took months, actually years with each year having another loss. Mum, Koro, three babies, one for each year. Amongst it all, my big boys went to live with their pāpā and step mum as I didn't want their life with me to be a constant grieving/depression cycle - whilst it was great for my boys to have consistency and a team to look after them - it broke my heart.

Amongst that all, I felt that me owning even just one small patch of whenua myself as a solo women, would provide for the mokopuna that I don't yet know; provide for my son's as men, perhaps to use as deposit for their first whare; and for myself so that if I could just get through everything in peace and privacy, it would all be ok.

And it really does work. I don't just say that property and cash flow is the winning element. It's also the connection to somewhere that is for you (a bedroom, apartment, flat, garage, piece of land) where you are important and matter. I can say I lived on the street named after one of tupuna - and that made the high mortgage payments much easier.

One of my hunaunga/clients (and he knows who he is) said "it's about turangawaewae" - and he was so right. That's what investing in whenua is all about, anchoring self to whenua - it heals, it nurtures and grows us. 

Again: 

Imagine what it could mean socio economically if more of our Māori communities, Pacific Island communities, families, in fact anyone, were home owners in Aotearoa?

I will be releasing webinars, video tutorials and E books this January 2020 to celebrate Indigify (Indigenuity Ltd) fifth birthday. Prices on the home page, nga mihi.

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