Upmarket kaupapa Māori housing facility opens in Wellington

By Jessica Tyson

The biggest transitional housing facility outside Auckland has just opened in Pōneke, delivering up to 100 beds, support and safety to manuhiri (guests) in need.

Te Pā Pori is the outcome of a partnership between the Wellington City Mission and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and opened yesterday.  

Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge says the facility will be a whare for the most vulnerable to call home. It will also provide manuhiri with wraparound support from a place of kaupapa Māori.

“We work with some of the most vulnerable in our community who find themselves experiencing hard times, and who will now struggle even more because of the effects of Covid-19.”

Over six floors, Te Pā Pori consists of 77 fully refurbished one-bedroom units, plus six apartments suitable for independent living. There are four communal spaces, designed to bring manuhiri together for connection, shared meals and personal development.

Readjusting

Missioner Maria Millan says manuhiri often need to live in flatting situations or back with whānau.

“Being able to live well with others is vital to the long-term success of that.”  

The building is also staffed around the clock, with onsite social workers, support, and concierge security. Manuhiri can access many social services and support, including budgeting advice, counselling, housing advocacy and education.

Millan says the mission’s model of transitional housing differs from emergency housing. Instead manuhiri are equipped to move into permanent housing within a three to six-month time frame.  

Boutique accommodation

 “We call the people we walk alongside manuhiri, which means visitor because this is not their home. Its shelter and support on the journey. They deserve better – they deserve a permanent home in the community.”  

The owner of the landmark building, Alex Cassels, was converting the property into boutique accommodation when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020.  With no international travellers arriving in the country, it made sense to re-purpose the building, Edridge says.

“Alex and I had a conversation about the mission’s plans to have an impact on the issue of homelessness.

"We could see that the zebra-adorned building could play a big part in that. He agreed, so continued the renovation without changing the nature of the refurbishment. How cool is that! We are delighted to be welcoming our manuhiri into such a beautiful place.”

The Wellington City Council is helping to coordinate referrals for manuhiri to stay at Te Pā Pori. The government is contributing $15 million over the next three years to support the facility.