Te Puea Marae receives two honours

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Te Puea marae has received two honours for their community care for the homeless and influencing government policies to better care for the homeless.  

They've been listed in the New Zealand Heralds top 10 New Zealander of the year, and chair Hurimoana Dennis has been named South Aucklander of the year.

Te Puea marae caretaker Mona Kingi is humbled to be listed amongst the 10 best New Zealanders of the year.

"It's blown me away.  I never expected anything like that. There are so many wonderful people out there.  It was like magic with the volunteers coming.  All the community bringing food, clothes, we didn't need anything and overseas they donated a whole lot of pūtea, and they still do it today," she said.

Marae chair, Hurimoana Dennis has also been honoured by the local Manukau Courier as frontman for the marae who cared for the needy over three months with military precision, despite leaked details to media of being under police investigation.

"That's where I grew up from a toddler until my working days as a policeman.  I'm lucky to receive this award from them," said Dennis.

"Huri did a damn good job. He was a very good speaker and everything and he was out there in front of the public," said Ms Kingi.

During the winter months, more than 80 families were assisted into accommodation, with the help of 30 plus sponsors and community groups.  The government took note and allocated $340 million for emergency housing.

"We want to work with the government to use our procedures for a second Manaaki Tangata initiative.  We're overjoyed because we know the right pathway, systems with Māori aspects and a tribal perspective," said Dennis.

Ms Kingi expressed her thanks to the country.

"People of New Zealand, I want to thank you for 2016.  They were so wonderful to our marae. They're the ones that really made things easy.  I wish them a very, very happy new year," she said.

The marae plans to open it's doors again next year to care for Auckland's needy.