Te Arawa to offer solutions for whānau in emergency housing

By Herewini Waikato

Te Arawa has announced it is taking a stand on solutions for homeless people being crowded into Rotorua motels.

The iwi says it will work alongside experts to prepare a proposal to be presented to the government later this month.

Te Arawa response team spokesman Monty Morrison said: “The situation we have, we have called for it to stop. It cannot continue.”

In 2020 during the first Covid- 19 lockdown there were two emergency housing motels in Rotorua, and some in the industry say there could be up to 50 emergency motels now.

Te Arawa takes a stand at the housing crisis in Rotorua.

A high percentage of the motel residents are Māori.

Morrison says the response team will work alongside agencies in Rotorua to try to tackle this problem.

Will work with  ‘Visions’

“What we are offering is for our own experts to talk to their people and I am talking about the government to assist them, providing better services and aligned services that meet our expectations of Te Arawa,” Morrison said.

The troubles of families in Rotorua emergency housing came to the forefront again after the story ‘Golden Mile’ ran on the Sunday programme on TV1.

Te Arawa says it will work with service providers including the controversial Visions of a Helping Hand group, which has been criticised for a strict approach and lax approach to security staffing.

Morrison says Vision’s leaders, Tiny and Lynley Deane, are needed if Te Arawa is to help out the high number of whānau living in these motels.

“They need help, they want clear directions too.”

Te Arawa is mana whenua over the area most motels are situated on in Rotorua.

At the moment there have been no discussions by motel owners to meet on mana whenua basis but Te Arawa is keen to meet them. Morrison says they have heard the motel owners are very keen to meet.

Proposal not yet decided

He does not know when leases run out for motels on Ngāti Whakaue lands.

Morrison believes preparing and sending a proposal to the government is the best idea to help families in motels. What the proposal will look like is not yet known.

Morrison says: “Te Arawa is here and we want to have a say and not just about what is happening but to also work with the government on a way forward. Ngāti Whakaue is here and we want to support all those whānau and restore the mana that not only belongs to Fenton Street but also to the wider community and to us as Te Arawa,” he said.

The Human Rights Commission now wants to speak to those living in emergency and transitional housing to form part of its housing inquiry. This Thursday a meeting will be held between Te Arawa and services to prepare the proposal.