Te Arawa offering help to end Rotorua emergency housing crisis

By James Perry

Iwi leaders met this week to discuss the impact of emergency housing on whānau, hapū, iwi and their rohe.

Monty Morrison, spokesperson for the hui says, “Like everyone in Rotorua and around the country, Te Arawa is acutely aware of the concerns emanating from a whole range of people having their emergency housing needs met in Rotorua.

“We have long held concerns about the safety of whānau and their tamariki staying in emergency housing. We also have concerns about the impact emergency housing has had on neighbouring homes and businesses,” Morrison said.

“Our iwi experts in this field say while emergency housing is providing short-term relief for the government, the health, wellbeing and social needs of our whānau in these facilities are not being met.

“Crime and anti-social behaviour have increased. We are concerned that the global reputation of Te Arawa and Rotorua as the home of manaakitanga is also at stake.”

The call comes two weeks after a TVNZ Sunday documentary exposed the realities for whānau living in motels in Rotorua, including allegations of sexual assault, and emotional and physical abuse.

Housing issues continue in Rotorua.

Vulnerable families packed in

The allegations led Waiariki MP and Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi to call for an immediate investigation into the situation in Rotorua where up to 50 motels and hotels along what used to be known as the 'golden mile' of Fenton St have been used to house vulnerable whānau. 

Ngāti Whakaue, the mana whenua of much of the land where the emergency accommodation providers are situated on, also met this week. 

It is looking to offer its operational expertise and knowledge of local conditions to create an iwi-led operational group. This group will work with government agencies to oversee and monitor all operational interventions. 

“We want greater accountability for resources being used and to ensure that they are well targeted and getting the desired results,” Morrison said.

As well as intervening at an operational level Te Arawa believes it can also add value at a governance level.

Morrison says Te Arawa is willing to work with ministers to ensure policy settings are correct and aligned to end the current crisis.

Regain reputation

"Strategies also are emerging to provide sustainable solutions to the whole range of issues that have caused the current crisis. We particularly want to support strategies that will lead to Rotorua regaining its reputation as a premier visitor destination and a safe place to live.

“We have agreed to meet on September 22 at Te Papaīōuru Marae, where we will confirm the approach that Ngāti Whakaue and Te Arawa are proposing. Following that hui we will be in a position to meet with government ministers.”