A Hawke's Bay marae plans to put a business case forward to the Government to buy 317 Housing New Zealand homes in Flaxmere before the next general election.
Te Aranga Marae in Flaxmere formed a company, which included former All Black captain Taine Randell, to take care of its commercial ventures and its first initiative was the purchase of all Housing New Zealand units in the suburb.
Te Aranga Limited's chairman and Hastings district councillor Henare O'Keefe said the project could be the first of its kind in New Zealand and was part of a plan to help Flaxmere people "take their community back".
The company had enough funding to complete a business plan, which would be finished by July this year and used to lobby the Government.
"We want to create a pathway that will enable our people to own their own homes," Mr O'Keefe said. "When you own something, you have more pride in it. About 40 per cent of people living in Flaxmere are tenants."
The criteria the company is looking at won't just include learning about what a mortgage and finance entails. It would also include encouraging people to find help if they had problems with alcohol and drugs or family violence, Mr O'Keefe said.
"We will be saying if you want one of these homes, here's the deal. You get some help for your recovery, stop the violence in your home, make sure your kids are going to school, those sorts of things," he said.
The new home owners would also be encouraged to contribute to programmes at Te Aranga Marae.
"We are saying to people 'hey, you've got a marae down the road, we want your support in the things we do'," Mr O'Keefe said.
"It's about fixing our community from the inside out and saying to Flaxmere, it's time to grow up. There's no template for what we're doing. It is groundbreaking. It has never been tried before."
The idea of purchasing the housing units surfaced about four years ago after initial encouragement from Associate Minister of Housing Tariana Turia. "But then it seemed too hard ... with Te Aranga Limited, it's given us an opportunity to take it a step further," Mr O'Keefe said.
He understood not everyone living in a Housing New Zealand unit would "be behind it".
"But put it this way. Families already in these houses, we're not going to boot them out. But we prefer they buy into the idea of owning that home."