Mixed reactions to Bennett’s marae visit

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett turned up to Te Puea Marae today. However, some workers were unimpressed with her visit. It's prompted a call from a Tainui spokesperson for Bennett to provide more support for marae workers.

The short visit from Housing Minister Paula Bennett to Te Puea Marae this morning didn't impress some marae caretakers.

“I got no feeling at all because it was too fast,” says marae volunteer Mona Kingi.

“It's good that she's come to realise to see what our whānau of Te Puea marae is doing for the people.

The Minister says she wanted to check that the support she had offered was coming through.

“I've just been really interested in making sure that I've got the right services, my department's been here right from the beginning, that's what should happen, and that's who I'm more interested in the services.”

Ms. Kingi a marae volunteer was asked if she felt the minister cared.

“No! I don't think she did, she would have spent more time, like others do.  You know umm, cause it's all about our whānau that come from homeless,” says Ms. Kingi.

A Waikato spokesperson Rahui Papa says financial consideration needs to be given to the selfless efforts of volunteers.

“That's something the people, the marae and the Ministry of Social Housing should discuss.”

Even though the marae made it clear they don’t need financial assistance, the minister was asked if she’d offer financial support.

“No I won't, but what I will do though is um, give what they've asked for, which is, the social services that are really being wrapped around.  They've asked for help with counselling, they've asked for help with probation actually for some of the people here,” says Bennett.

Rahui Papa is calling on the minister to quickly resolve the housing needs of the homeless.