Topic: Health

Iwi urged to help their homeless people

By Gloria (Korōria) Taumaunu
  • Wellington

A lobby group for the homeless is calling on iwi leaders to make a difference for their people who are homeless.

Dr Shiloh Groot, the tangata whenua co-chair for the New Zealand Coalition to End Homelessness says research shows that cultivating and supporting cultural identity is an important part of any solution for homeless Maori.

"Many of our homeless whanau are disconnected from their wider whanau and whenua. And many of them, especially young people and the long term homeless, are scared to go back to their tribal roots,” says Dr Shiloh who is also a social psychology lecturer at Auckland University.

While many iwi already offer social, health and education services, Dr Shiloh contends that the learning of Maori cultural identity should be extended to their homeless descendants.

"We encourage iwi leaders to provide opportunities for these whanau and rangatahi to reconnect or learn about their culture be it through holding wananga or working with groups already supporting homeless people. We know many already are.”

Dr Shiloh said that while it’s the Government’s responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of the nation, only iwi and hapū can facilitate the learning of Māori cultural identity.

"We need to all come together now to help whānau in urgent need because they're part of our whakapapa too."

Dr Groot, along with a number of other experts working with homeless Maori, including pregnant Maori women, children and the elderly, will be sharing their solutions to overcome homelessness at the Waking up to Homelessness Conference in Wellington tomorrow.