Te Puea Marae sees the changing face of homeless

By Aroha Mane

Throughout COVID-19 Te Puea Memorial Marae in Auckland has taken in over 480 homeless whānau.

Their Manaaki Tāngata facilitator Hurimoana Dennis says because of COVID-19 the faces of homeless are changing.

“The issue of becoming homeless now is being overtaken by becoming unemployed and now the two of them will start to look the same. So that is what we are getting coming through our doors.”

The Manaaki Tāngata project has catered for the homeless at Te Puea for four years now. Regardless of the challenges, the kaupapa of Te Puea will continue.

“No matter what we are committed to our cause to help the vulnerable. Our purpose is embedded in the legacy of Te Puea Hērangi, no matter who they are we will help them.”

Dennis says the unique space of the marae allows for tikanga based social services which leads to housing and employment for whānau.

“The communal eating, the communal living, that's our counselling sessions when they're cooking kai. The kids say a lot when they're in the kitchen telling on their parents. But when you put them to bed at night and wake them up in the morning, you end up knowing a lot about that whānau.”

To cater to more whānau in need, Te Puea Marae has plans to extend their papakāinga.

“We hope to put some whare out the back, where we can bring more whānau kāingakore in. So we'll take our numbers from 25 heads to 50 heads.”

If all goes to plan, the build should start next year.