Harawira calls for Te Puea chair to recommission old boarding schools for homeless

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Mana party leader Hone Harawira is calling for Hurimoana Dennis from Te Puea Marae to be paid by the government to recommission old Māori boarding schools to house the homeless.

Hone Harawira says the Te Puea chair is the right man to address Auckland's homeless issue. 

"I reckon employ Huri Dennis from Te Puea Marae to recommission all those old government buildings, schools, etc., and turn them into places for the homeless tomorrow. We've got people needing to get into houses immediately."

Last year, Te Puea Marae helped 184 needy whānau, mostly Māori, with housing through its Manaaki Tangata programme. Last month, they reopened their doors to again assist the impoverished during the winter months. 

At the Māori Party election launch earlier this month, Hurimoana Dennis said, "Overcrowding, eviction, below the poverty line, poor decision-making and bureaucracy were those things that really did a bit of damage to our people."

Harawira made his statement on Native Affairs' first televised Leaders Debate.

Harawira said, "As an old boy of St Stephen's, I'd like to see St Stephen's, Queen Victoria and Hato Petera put their hands up to say and Huri you can start by doing our places for the homeless for the next five years."

Anglican Māori boarding school St Stephen's closed in 2000 with sister school Queen Victoria closing the following year due to management and financial difficulties.

"We are working very well with the agencies who are working with us at the back of our marae. We work very hard on that relationship because we know we can't do this on our own," said Dennis.

Te Kāea contacted the Anglican church for a response. Their spokesperson said the church had nothing further to say on the matter.