Rotorua's Tiny Deane is looking to set up a homeless shelter in Auckland, saying he believes many New Zealand towns and cities approach homelessness the wrong way.

He says some towns and cities focus on moving homeless along, instead of educating and nurturing those living on the street.

This, Deane believes, is one of the reasons homelessness in Auckland has become such an issue.

Through social media, Deane was called upon to help set up a homeless shelter in Auckland after his work to establish two shelters in Rotorua and one in Taupō.


After receiving the call for help three weeks ago, Deane travelled to Auckland to see firsthand how bad the problem was.

"I spent two days and nights walking the streets," Deane said. "I reckon I would have seen 200 people living on the streets in the CBD but have been told there are about 800 people sleeping rough up there.

"I have also been told there are a heap more out Manukau way and about 27 in West Auckland."

A further four days, two last week and two this week, have been spent meeting with Auckland Council, a potential landlord and others working with homeless in the city.

"We have secured a building at the top of Nelson St that could be a home base for about 150 people," Deane said.

"The owners initially wanted to sell but we have managed to secure a lease. It is 120 per cent earthquake proof and has a level four fire alarm so many of the boxes have already been ticked."

Deane said, following his Tuesday meeting with Auckland Council, he was given "a few more hoops" to jump through.

"For those who know me, my size doesn't make hoop-jumping very comfortable. But our landlords have agreed to take on the hoops on our behalf. They are awesome people."


He said there was an impressive team of lawyers, a judge and other people already working with Auckland's homeless who had thrown their weight behind the shelter.

In Rotorua three vans drive the streets at night, picking up the rough sleepers and taking them back to the shelter.

"There they are washed, clothed, fed, loved, provided with tools to get off drugs and given the opportunity to speak to a social worker. Our ultimate aim is, that by educating and nurturing these people, they can begin to help themselves.

"If we simply keep looking for somewhere else for them to sleep, the problem with never be fixed."

Deane aims to take one of his Rotorua security staff and one of his social workers to Auckland to help put systems in place at the new shelter.

"I'm lucky in that there are excellent staff running the Rotorua and Taupō shelters so I can breeze in and breeze out. My aim is to live in the Auckland shelter for as long as it takes."

He said it would be interesting to see how the shelter was received in Auckland.

"In Rotorua people either love us or hate us," Deane said.

Auckland Council general manager arts community and events Graham Bodman confirmed members of the council's community empowerment team met with Deane on Wednesday.

"We welcome any initiative that addresses homelessness and commend Tiny's efforts to tackle the issue.

"Tiny informed our team that he will be sourcing private funding for his planned shelter and requested consenting advice for a site he is looking at. We have advised Tiny that he will need to lodge an application with the council's consents department and have provided guidance on how to do so.

"Auckland Council is strongly committed to addressing homelessness in Tāmaki Makaurau and is working closely with both government and non-government partners to end and prevent homelessness."