Topics: Housing, Te Arawa

Hikoi for homeless participants want night shelter

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Organisers of a hikoi for the homeless in Rotorua hope the event will result in a night shelter for the city.  Over 100 people gathered in the city for the hikoi, including members of the Salvation Army and police.

Organiser of the hikoi, Renee Kiriona of Pouhine ki te Whainga Trust says, “It's not getting any warmer, we have been working on this for months trying the diplomatic approach of writing letters, emails and having hui unfortunately none of that has worked so today we hikoi”.

The group marched from the city centre and stopped outside Work and Income Rotorua.  Along the street the message was simple, 'provide us with a night shelter' but according to Tamati Coffey that would only be a short term solution and the region needs a long term solution.

“We've funded Housing First here in Rotorua but that has only just kicked off so that's going to take a while to get the ball rolling.  In terms of the short term solution, I need to make sure that I am working with council, with iwi, with the community to make sure that we have got a short term solution for our winter”.

According to organisers of the hikoi there are over 60 people with in the CBD of Rotorua who are homeless and sleeping on the street.

Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, of Rotorua Lakes Council says council needs to do more.

“What I heard today suggests that we do have to do something right now.  People are cold, they are sleeping outside- that's not right and I don't want to think that- I would not like to think that we could have done more”.

Nga Pouhine ki te Whainga Trust has identified a vacant council building that could be used as a night shelter, which will be investigated by council.