Social Housing Minister considers helping Te Puea Marae

By Simon Collins, Nicholas Jones

Te Puea Marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis fronts media on the current housing crisis and how they haven taken in more than 50 people at the marae. Photo / Nick Reed
Te Puea Marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis fronts media on the current housing crisis and how they haven taken in more than 50 people at the marae. Photo / Nick Reed

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says the Government may help fund the South Auckland marae that has opened its doors to the homeless.

Ms Bennett has agreed to meet Te Puea Marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis at a cafe in Mt Eden tomorrow to discuss what he needs, but has declined to actually visit the marae.

She told reporters at Parliament that the Government was considering giving the marae more funding on top of $10,000 already donated by Te Puni Kokiri.

"I've discussed it with officials and we are just going through what that might mean. So I suppose the answer is possible," she said.

"I'm not sure [how much could be given]. I've had some discussion with officials...the Maori Party raised it with me the other night, so I've said that I would have a look at it."

A spokeswoman said Ms Bennett did not have time to go to the marae 9km south of Mt Eden at Mangere Bridge.

"I'm concerned that it's going to turn into a media circus rather than what was intended, which was to have an in-depth discussion about what the marae needs," the spokeswoman said.

"The minister does actually have a very full day tomorrow because it's her only day in Auckland once a week so she packs a lot in."

She said Ms Bennett did not need to tour the marae to understand the issues Mr Dennis was grappling with.

"She knows already about the issues there, but she wants to have a discussion with him about it and there is an opportunity to have that away from the marae."

Mr Dennis declined to comment before the meeting.

The marae has given shelter to almost 60 families and individuals since it opened its doors to the homeless on May 24.

Ms Bennett said yesterday that she was considering pre-purchasing Auckland motel rooms to shelter homeless people through the winter. She said 100 rooms could easily be filled within a week.

- additional reporting Nicholas Jones

- NZ Herald

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