Otara residents protest outside Mahitahi HQ

updated By Mare Haimona-Riki

A protest was held today outside the headquarters for addictions and recovery providers - 'Mahitahi Trust" in Manukau. Otara community members set up a picket line and chanted in opposition to the 41 unit housing complex on Franklyne Road.

Community leader, Tua Lefono says that they although they have concerns for the safety of their children, the community is more so disappointed with the lack of communication between Mahitahi and the Otara community. 

“The only communication that they had was mail drops when they started the building.... and that was it.

“If it wasn't for the local board advising them to see the community, they wouldn't have seen us.

“There’s Hillary College next to them, also the kōhanga Reo at the back, and there’s a couple of primary schools that surround that area.”

More than 20 Otara community members protested outside Mahitahi headquarters this morning in Manukau. Source / File

Otara Kaumatua Jeff Haimona-Tukua says:

“Here we are this morning in front of Mahitahi. It’s a Māori place. Despite being Māori, it acts like a Pākeha entity, working with the council without public knowledge to build a health and wellness facility for the mentally ill, near Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate.”

A hui was held at Ngāti Otara marae last month, but Otara residents left the hui feeling frustrated at the lack of disclosure.

Lefono continued to express some of the community concerns:

“We just concerns on what type of people they are gonna house, its 41 self contained rooms, they mentioned whānau but to what content?

“Like we’re aware that its social and mental clients, but to what capacity, what level?”

The construction for the 41 apartment papakāinga is currently under construction on Franklyne Rd, Otara. Source / File

Mahitahi Kainga Trust declined numerous invitations to speak on camera but sent a written statement to Te Ao Māori News dated 29 November. Excerpts from that statement are below.

“These houses are not for ex-prisoners, nor are they for sex offenders, or people who are short stayers.

“We will do our best to evaluate each applicant to ensure these homes are free of violence.

“To us here at Mahitahi Trust, we are confident the residents of these homes will not cause any problems to the families and children. "

When asked about the gazebo setup, Lefono responded, “I think it's patronizing, you know, I drove past here and I saw it but, it's quite offensive and insulting.”

Lefono is adamant that the community does not want the papakāinga to built anymore.