There are many names and titles given to cities and towns across Aotearoa New Zealand, all promising that special piece of paradise for our overseas visitors to come calling and stay a little longer while spending a whole lot more.
Adventure Capital of the World is Queenstown's claim to fame while Wellington will wrap you up in an Absolutely Positively bubble of cultural coolness. Tamaki Makaurau claims to be the land of a thousand lovers and that has to be a lot sexier sales pitch than a city of sails for Auckland.
However, here in the safe anchorage of Tauranga (the literal translation of our beloved city) we do not have a tag or a title to leverage off – until now.
Manaaki tangata is an all-time favourite Maori expression and it means a kind and caring person. To manaaki is to take care of, to show kindness to another person. To be the manaaki capital of Aotearoa is a very cool brand to carry our city out on to the global stage – if that is what we want to do.
In my opinion, Tauranga is very much a community of kindness. I see it almost every day in the koha (gifts) given to the homeless and helpless via the organisation I have the honour of being the kaitiaki (caretaker) for.
Sure some of this manaaki – kindness - is misguided from the time it leaves the pocket until it arrives in the puku of poverty. Recently, we have seen many examples of this with the recent influx of patch-protected pop-up poverty beggars, who have worked out how to milk the kindness of naive punters by putting a puppy in front of a sad sign.
Sad signs claiming they have lost their house or they need the fare to get to an urgent job interview. There are even "authentic" resumes to say they have a reputable employment record and this particular pop-up beggar is pulling in up to $800 a day.
All because we have a community of manaaki tangata – very kind people.
Across the road from our offices, we see pop-ups dropped off and picked up by car, all proclaiming poverty and hardship, however when my staff go across the road and invite them over to get help for their helplessness, they don't want to know.
One of my staff, who has been looking after the rough sleepers of Tauranga Moana for more than 20 years, has a four-word solution for this sudden spike in pop-up begging.
"Don't give them money". Aroha, kai and manaaki yes, money no.
It is that simple. As soon as the money goes then the pop-up beggar will soon follow, back to where they were before they worked out pulling in $200 a day is a crimeless career with very little downside - other than the tap being turned off once the kindness of a community has wised up to their sad signs.
This is not about being a Grinch a grump or a hard-nosed Ngati Whinger.
It is all about getting the koha of kindness - the manaaki, to those who need it most.
Feeling sorry for and reacting impulsively to "perceived" poverty is a tough one because we all want to help the helpless. However, for our team who work at the front line of emergency housing, rough sleeping and homelessness every day, the demographics of the most impoverished - who want to change their circumstances - overwhelmingly tell us it is the mothers and their kids who will make that change.
The danger of putting a dampener on giving a gold coin to pop-up begging, especially in a town where we manaaki way above the poverty belt, is we grow cold to giving, and to inoculate this kindness by pushing back on genuine families and whanau in need is something information can go a long way to mitigating.
Information days like the "Reconnecting the Disconnected" forum we are hosting with MSD at The Happy Puku, down at the Tauranga Domain next Tuesday, February 20 is a good start for givers who are the manaaki tangata of our community.
If you want to give to those who have a genuine need then time is the greatest gift as is knowledge, where you may learn a little more about the true needs of the homeless and rough sleepers of Tauranga Moana.
To make Tauranga the kindness capital of Aotearoa and the home of Manaaki Tangata - kind caring people, we need to be paddling the poverty waka in the same direction, toward the safe anchorage our ancestors named our city after.
Nau mai haere mai, ki te homeless hui next Tuesday.
¦Tommy Wilson is a best-selling local writer. email@example.com