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By Lucy Xia, RNZ Pacific

Nearly 40 percent of Pacific people in Aotearoa New Zealand live in crowded homes — almost four times that of the general population, according to a new report.

The report by Statistics New Zealand was based on data from the 2018 Census, which showed 39 percent lived in a home that required additional bedrooms for the number of people living in it, which shows no progress has been made since 2013.

The data showed nearly 60 percent of households with Pacific people had more than five residents. But with more than 65 percent of Pacific people living in rented homes, just 4 percent of rented homes had five or more bedrooms.

An organisation supporting Pacific families said, while intergenerational living and big households are not new to the Pacific community, there was an urgent need to support people suffering from the negative impacts of overcrowded living.

The Fono’s spokesperson Frank Koloi said during the pandemic, large Pacific families were already straining from the pressures of looking after visiting relatives stranded in the lockdowns.

He said the unaffordability of homes and the rising cost of living is another blow to intergenerational households struggling to get by.

Koloi said there were a range of other issues typically seen in crowded homes.

‘Truancy in schools’
“From truancy in schools, family violence … the current outbreak of measles and rheumatic fever is still prominent within Pacific families in south Auckland,” he said.

“So there’s a real need to address the overcrowded homes in terms of resourcing these families.”

Koloi said the Fono was supporting these families with wrap-around services, including budgeting advice, supporting kids going back to school and helping people into higher paying jobs through upskilling.

Stats NZ’s wellbeing and housing statistics manager Sarah Drake said the current growing Pacific population was often unsupported, particularly in large urban areas like Auckland — where even unsuitable housing can be unaffordable to rent or own.

The data also showed more than half of people living in crowded homes had a problem with damp, cold, mould, or needed major repairs.

Stats NZ’s principal analyst of census insights, Rosemary Goodyear, said they would like to see more people from the Pacific community do the Census this year so that their circumstances and voices could be heard.

In 2018, just 35 percent of Pacific peoples lived in owner-occupied homes, compared with 64 percent of the total population.

The homelessness rate for Pacific peoples was 578 people per 10,000 — more than double that of the general population.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ. 

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