Topic: Housing

Homelessness growing in Whakatāne

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

There are 53 homeless people in the township of Whakatāne and the number is growing according to Judy Turner, chair of a Whakatāne steering committee on homelessness. A drop-in centre has recently opened catering for homeless people.

In its seventh week, Te Whare Manaaki is still providing the goods according to Cheree Lathan who cooks breakfast for the homeless.

“It's just great seeing them all coming in here having a hot kai and setting themselves up for the day and helping them out with clothing and stuff like that," says Lathan.

Five days a week, Te Whare Manaaki provides breakfast for the homeless in the Whakatāne Township. 

At the start of the year community leaders, groups and the council noticed an increase in the homeless population.

“Currently our steering committee is only looking at those who are living rough in Whakatāne township itself we are a very big district so we haven't got numbers in outlining our rural areas.  But certainly here the numbers have notably gone up," says Turner.

Deesilver Pitau has been homeless for the past year in Whakatāne and says since Te Whare Manaaki has opened up he and others have a place to go.

“I'm currently not on the benefit, we try not to get on the benefit.  We look for jobs, there's not enough jobs in Whakatāne," Pitau says.

Pastor to New Hope Church Darryl John Pye says, “We got a good team but we need more support.  We need more males especially, just to monitor what's going on here".

The concern for those working with the homeless here in Whakatāne is winter but for now, providing blankets and hot food is a start.