Bennett's offer to Te Puea limited to staff support

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The government has offered to provide more backup assistance to Te Puea marae for homeless families. It follows a private meeting between Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and marae representative Hurimoana Dennis at a cafe in central Auckland today.

Finally, more support for the caretakers of Te Puea Marae from the government for homeless families.

Te Puea Marae spokesperson Hurimoana Dennis says, “Resources and experts in Social Services, perhaps a direct pathway to her office, freeing up the process systems. That's better support for us at the moment, but the important thing is that we keep talking.”

Hurimoana Dennis and Paula Bennett were to meet at Cafe Twenty Three in Mt Eden this morning, but they met at a different cafe, at the ministers' request.

Dennis says, “She didn't want a media circus. The main issue for her was to keep our discussions confidential so she didn't want the media there covering what we talked about.”

It's been three weeks since the marae opened its doors. Since then 27 families have been placed into better accommodation. But there's still no financial support from the Minister.

“At the moment, it's not about money. For us, the immediate need is for social workers, freeing up the system and bureaucracy, that's the biggest difficulty for some of them,” says Dennis.

Te Puea Marae will remain the forefront over the next three months. Paula Bennett has promised to provide more staff from WINZ, Social Housing and CYF's, and other relevant agencies who are expected to start next week.