This week the scab was pulled off a Tauranga sore that has still not healed.

It's been just over a year since Tauranga City Council controversially banned begging and rough sleeping within five metres of retail and hospitality premises in the Tauranga, Greerton and Mount Maunganui centres.

Many retailers supported the decision and said it had been a success.

"We instigated this whole affair really in 2017 when the begging became such that it was having an effect on business owners in Greerton and the CBD," said Sally Benning, of Mainstreet Greerton.


"Since the ban came into place on April 1, 2019 it's made a dramatic difference in Greerton Village."

The bylaw was met with criticism from those working to support the homeless. The Tauranga Housing Advocacy Trust is seeking a judicial review, saying the bylaw is a breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights.

Now, with a new council and mayor in place, the Policy Committee has approved a proposal to revoke the ban. The public got a chance to have its say and there were 372 written submissions and 39 people presented their case in person to the council, over a full day in council chambers.

Business owners again spoke of threats, intimidation and fears for their staff's safety before the ban was introduced.

"I've had to push one fella out of the building twice," Craig McKenzie, of Quest Tauranga Central, said.

"He wanders on in and says 'ah I'm just going to go up to my room' and starts wandering up the hall to press the elevator. 'No you're not' and then he gets in your face.

"It's really hard to control those situations and I worry about that escalating."

But advocates for the homeless say the ban hasn't solved the problem, just moved it from the main centres to the surrounding suburbs.


"We want to find solutions that get people off the street," housing advocate Pip Brook said.

"So our main thrust is to try and produce a wellbeing hub hopefully with the support of the council and other agencies."

The manner in which the council consulted for the original process was also questioned.

"We heard mainly from the Greerton retailers, the public, a little bit from the Tauranga CBD retailers about the proposed bylaws. But never once did we hear from any of the homeless or vulnerable community at the Mount CBD, Tauranga CBD or the Greerton area," Tracey Carlton, of Street Kai, believed.

"Never once were their voices heard, never once were they seen."

Carlton was scathing that homeless people's views had not been sought outside council chambers.

"It's absolutely daunting for them on so many levels. Their wairua, their spirit, their mana… Their ability to move into a space like this, it's extremely formal with many procedures and protocols. It's probably their worst nightmare.

"It would be better if we could go out on the street and meet them in the space where they're comfortable and they could speak the truth."

The hearing of submissions is now complete and deliberations will be held on February 20.

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