Mangere marae closes its doors to homeless families

By Simon Collins

The Mangere marae that opened its doors to homeless families two months ago will not accept any more families from the end of this month, saying the "tidal wave" of homelessness has subsided.

Two months to the day since taking in the first homeless families on July 25, Te Puea Memorial Marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis said the doors would close to new whanau from July 31 and the marae's "Manaaki Tangata" programme would end a month later.

"I think we've had a big impact on taking away some of the sting with some of these families that were sleeping in cars," he said.

"We think the tidal wave has subsided. The tidal wave I'm talking about are the mums and dads and kids, because they all came. They just bowled us right over."

By last week, he said, the marae had done needs assessments for 56 families and individuals, adding up to 70 adults and 86 children.

"Of the 56, we have placed 16 in permanent housing, 13 in temporary housing, 13 were in and out or just needed advice, eight we asked to leave because they were just not following the kawa [protocols] of the marae, and 19 people were still on site."

He said the numbers on site were down to 14 today.

He said the Manaaki Tangata programme had always been planned to last for the winter only, partly because a major rebuild of the marae was due to start at the end of August or early September.

"We are in the middle of a rebuild. We have to get that going, otherwise we will lose our funding for that," he said.

But he said marae social workers would continue to work with all the families who had come through the programme.

"Our marae social services team are now going out to make sure that their placements are fit for purpose," he said. "We have given a commitment to them to do the best we can to work with others to make that happen."

Meanwhile Manurewa Marae is bringing in five portacom housing units so that it can effectively pick up where Te Puea leaves off. Marae trustee Rangi McLean said the first three units were delivered on Friday and two more, plus two that would be used for administration, would arrive this week.

"We are happy to take anybody," he said.

"It has cost us more than $100,000. We were fortunate to receive funding of $50,000 from the Wiri Licensing Trust, and the Manurewa Local Board is helping us to get our marae fit for purpose.

"We are not just doing it for the short term, because the possibility may arise out of this project that we could look at doing something more meaningful, more sustainable and more financially viable."

Huria Marae in Tauranga has also opened its doors to homeless people two days a week, offering food, showers and washing facilities.

- NZ Herald

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