After months of preparation, countless donations from the community and support from council and businesses alike, Awhina House officially opened its doors yesterday.

With a freshly planted garden and the lawn looking spick and span - thanks to the community mucking in and helping out with resources - Tauranga's newest community asset will soon become a haven for 12 of the city's many homeless women.

On Sunday an opening party was held to mark the milestone and the yard was packed with people who had helped contribute to the good cause in some way.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless, National leader Simon Bridges and Labour list MPs Angie Warren-Clark and Jan Tinetti were among those celebrating the achievement.


Jan Tinetti officially opened the shelter by snipping a bright yellow ceremonial ribbon.

Awhina House manager Angela Wallace said the gathering was a "real celebration of the journey" that it had taken to make the shelter a reality.

"It's been a community effort and we appreciate everyone who has contributed, whether that is a toaster or a tea towel."

Haidee Kalirai, left, sets up donated beds at Awhina House with general manager Angela Wallace. Photo / File
Haidee Kalirai, left, sets up donated beds at Awhina House with general manager Angela Wallace. Photo / File

The mission statement for the shelter was to "nurture, advocate for, and protect the homeless women in Tauranga Moana" and the vision was for "no woman in Tauranga Moana to wake up in the morning without a hopeful future", Wallace said.

Staff were being settled into their roles at the shelter from yesterday and volunteers would soon follow.

There weren't any women living at the shelter just yet as the women who would stay would be referred by an agency such as the Ministry of Social Development, Wallace said.

Women would be admitted into the shelter in a capacity that made it safe for everyone, she said.

Awhina House was established by advocacy group He Kaupapa Kotahitanga, which formed in August last year.


Aside from the huge outpouring of support shown by the community, the trust received funding from a range of groups, including the Tauranga City Council, Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT), the Acorn Foundation and Craigs Investment Partners, Synergy Technologies, Watchmen Security and BayTrust.

The road to opening wasn't without its bumps. In January thieves stole a washing machine, lawnmower, weedeater, power tools and garden equipment.

Much to the shelter's appreciation, the community showed its true colours and stepped up by helping with donations to replace the stolen goods.