Former rough sleepers help feed Rotorua's most vunerable

By Mānia Clarke

Some former rough sleepers are now helping feed Rotorua's homeless thanks to the selfless generosity of good samaritans Percy Poharama and his wife. The couple cook kai after their day jobs which they then feed to the homeless.

Joe and Fabian eagerly get the evening meal ready to feed those less fortunate.

“It's for what he did to us, for the people, the homeless in Rotorua,” said Fabian.

“It's about giving back to the community for what Percy's done,” said Joe.

Two months ago the pair had no home. Now they're helping Percy to feed between 25 to 50 people a night at the city's recently opened community drop-in centre run by fellow good Samaritans Tiny Deane, Lara Northcroft and Wetini Mitai-Ngatai.

“The Lord has shown me a lot of love,” said Poharama, “I use to see a lot of these guys getting looked down on, spoken down about and basically trashed. For me, they're worth more than that.”

“Majority of them are staying in houses,” said Joe. “People that are struggling who live in houses and we're helping them too.”

For 18 months Percy and his team came here to feed the rough sleepers who slept at the government garden's Tearooms until they got booted. The rough sleepers were also served with trespass notices.

“Just like to see more things happening for our homeless," said Fabian. "More shelter. Get them off the street in a safer environment, so they don't get into trouble and that from police and the law.”

“The issues are alcohol problems, drug problems, see a lot of that uptown, every day we're up there,” said Joe.

“Just not enough money to help feed them. I think a lot of people out there could do with a bit of counselling. More money would help them I think.”

Percy hopes more of the public and churches will step up to help.