Organisations working on the front line of homelessness will meet in Tauranga for a forum aimed at addressing the issue throughout Aotearoa.

"The governmental departments are going to have the luxury of sitting in the audience and listening and we'll be up on the stage giving them what we believe are the solutions to homelessness," Tommy Kapai Wilson, director of Te Tuinga Whanau - Support Services Trust, said.

His organisation instigated and organised the event, which had 160 confirmed attendees from throughout New Zealand.

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Representatives from the Ministry of Social Development, police, youth justice and district health boards and other organisations were expected to be at the forum, being held at the Tauranga Rugby and Sports Club.

The main speakers include Riki Houghton, from He Korowai Trust in Kaitaia, and leaders from Te Puea Memorial Marae in Auckland.

"It's good because we're already working in that collaboration zone so finally the right people are talking to each other with the right message," Wilson said.

The message on Tuesday would be "reconnecting the disconnected".

"In our opinion, the root cause of homelessness as it is in many other sectors – whether it's the challenges we face in health, in addiction, in truancy – is disconnected people and we've got to learn how to reconnect them."

Wilson said that involved showing people where they belong.

"Most of our clients are Maori and it's really important for them to know where they belong – their whakapapa, their hapu, their iwi and their marae – because most of the people that are homeless in Tauranga are Maori that aren't from Tauranga."

Te Tuinga Whanau wanted to organise the event as its work over the past 12 months around Tauranga had been successful, Wilson said.


"We want to share what we've learnt."

It is a grassroots approach to a national problem.

"We've had buy-in from community kingpins, from the council, from government agencies and from just the ordinary person on the street who all want to help."

Wilson said people from Whakatane and Rotorua had visited Te Tuinga Whanau to see what it was doing and taken the ideas back to their communities.

"So perhaps we can create a pathway for other cities and other towns to follow."

He said his organisation had 60 years of experience with homelessness in its staff of 18 and some of those staff members would speak on Tuesday.

Once disconnected people were connected, they did not come back, Wilson said.

"And we don't want to see them coming back and going through the same wheels, the same doors. We want to fix them up and send them on their way with a warrant of fitness."

The homelessness forum runs from 10am-5pm.

Tomorrow: The launching of The Happy Puku.