Inadequate housing and poor health in Glen Innes highlighted in campaign

By Jessica Tyson

The Auckland suburb of Glen Innes was developed as a state housing area in the 1950s by the Labour Government with the vision of providing adequate housing to residents. Fast-forward 70 years and residents are still facing challenges in relation to poverty, inadequate housing, poor health and displacement.

Some of these experiences have been recorded in research as part of a new campaign Poverty is Not Our Future, conducted by local residents in collaboration with the Centre for Culture-Centred Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE} at Massey University.

Glen Innes resident, Shelley, of Tainui and Ngāi Tahu, spoke at the launch at Te Oro on Wednesday. She told Te Ao reporter Aroha Mane, that homelessness is a major issue in the community.

“There's families on the beach. There’s people with their children in the car and they’re in tents down by the wharf and that sleeping.”

Mother Claire, of Ngāpuhi, has lived in Glen Innes all her life.  

“Housing, there's issues with my home. It’s cold and damp in winter, which is causing my kids to get sick,” she says.

Long waiting times to access health care is another concern.

“We need more medical facilities. I mean I take my kids up to [the other medical centre]. You make appointments because waiting in line is crazy,” Claire continues.

People interviewed reported that financial constraints stopped them from purchasing healthy food over takeaways. Addiction and substance abuse was also common.

Shelley says, “People have to know there is poverty and what it is and how it affects communities, drug infestation, alcoholism. That all comes hand in hand with poverty because there’s nothing else they can do.”

As part of the research 60 people were interviewed, including 41 Māori.  

Dr Phoebe Elers is the lead researcher and project manager for the campaign. She says interviews with residents started in November 2018. Soon after an advisory board was formed.

Senior Lecturer at Massey University Steve Elers says is another researcher who worked on the project. He says the advisory board plans to present the campaign to local MPs.

“We're going to ask them to come and meet people on our advisory board and just sit down and kōrero with them.”

The collective hope these issues will be heard for further action to take place.