South Auckland community welcomes homeless lockers

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

A South Auckland community is welcoming an initiative led by high school students to install storage lockers for the homeless as winter approaches. Six lockers created as a class project by Manurewa High youth have found a home at the office of the local MP.

With only finishing touches left to go, the year 10 students are relieved to see months of hard work come to fruition.

“That they have a space to put their storage in and it doesn't get chucked away, and they feel safer in our community,” said student Parav Jotkour.

“We feel really accomplished and really proud of ourselves for working through it.”

Their efforts in partnership with Habitat of Humanity is being praised by the homeless and local community.

“I reckon that's awesome for the homeless, yeah, need it. It'll help them put their stuff away, you know like their blankets and extra clothes, stuff like that,” said local man Harry. “All their belongings.”

“Usually the council just chucks it in the rubbish or like people just help themselves to it,” said Rangi. “It's coming up to winter now and they need somewhere to store their clothes, that make it dry.”

New Zealand has the highest rate of homelessness in the OECD world, with more than 40,000 people living in cars, motels or on the street. This project which began a year ago as a class project to address a community issue has not been easy.

“First we didn't know where to put the lockers and we didn't know how we were going to build them, and we didn't have a proper plan,” said Jotkour, “but we finally did it.”

“The government needs to show a little love like that, like these children, are gonna do for these guys, the homeless,” said Harry.

The students have launched a fundraising campaign to build more lockers.