Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga marae helps homeless

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A Tauranga marae is opening its doors twice a week to homeless Bay residents, offering them food, showers and washing facilities.

Huria Marae, based in Judea, launched the initiative, named He Rourou Aroha, almost three weeks ago.

Huria trust manager Sylvia Willison said they were not able to have people stay at the Marae but wanted to do what they could to help.

What do you think of Huria Marae helping out homeless Bay residents? Email us and let us know!

"We thought if we can't sleep people here, surely there is something we can do."

"I thought about it and discussed it with the staff at Huria Trust, and they loved the idea of being able to give something back to community to help," she said.

"It was what we saw in our community, and from a community perspective it does challenge you [to do something]."

Mrs Willison said the first day they opened, they had one person turn up to use the facilities, last Sunday it had increased to four.

"We are looking to see how we go," she said.

They welcomed people to the marae from 9am to 6pm on each Monday and Sunday, with volunteers serving soup twice a day.

"We have a very long list of volunteers, from the hapu members themselves and outside of the hapu we have volunteers who wanted to come along."

The shower facilities and washing machines had been well utilised by those who took up the help offered.

"They think it's wonderful - they couldn't thank us enough, it's very humbling for us to experience that."

Mrs Willison said they would continue providing their facilities and soup kitchen long term.

"We are quite happy to continue to go as long as our services are needed."

Tauranga City Council Mayor Stuart Crosby said he congratulated the marae for supporting homeless people in the community.

"They're very well placed in that area with facilities to support people," he said.

Tommy Wilson from Te Tuinga Whanau Support Service said any help was better than no help.

"If we can convert likes on Facebook to showing up and giving a hand, we're all be better for it, especially the homeless," he said.

Creator of the Lunchbox Challenge, which asked parents to make an extra lunch for their children to take to school for those in need, Tracey Wallace-Hutchins said it was great to see some meaningful solutions occurring in the community.

- Bay of Plenty Times

Huria Marae welcome any donations of towels in good conditions, for users of their shower facilities.

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