Things are looking positive for Tauranga.

The city's business sector is thriving, our population is increasing, and a range of exciting projects loom on the horizon, including the Tauranga university campus and an expanded marine research centre at Sulphur Point.

As with any growing city, new issues emerge. Traffic congestion is one, and increasing homelessness is another. City leaders are now grappling with these challenges.

The stark realities faced by those sleeping rough was brought into sharp focus last week.


Advocates for the needy confirmed that some homeless women sleeping rough on the city's streets had been victims of sexual abuse.

In one instance a woman was offered accommodation before being locked out of the house and told she would only be allowed back in exchange for sexual favours. She left. Another advocate said a homeless woman had told her she had been raped.

Groups supporting the homeless fear the problem will escalate if the proposed rough sleeping ban goes through which will put homeless women in Tauranga in further danger.

Homeless people often chose to stay in a doorway of a shop because it offers lighting and a sense of safety.

However, a council committee earlier this month agreed to include the ban, which prohibits sleeping and begging within 5m of a retail or hospitality premises, under the proposed draft Street Use and Public Places Bylaw.

A possible solution put forward is the establishment of women's night shelter in the city.

Tauranga Women's Refuge says it is happy to help with any such project and councillor Leanne Brown has said she is also willing to explore the idea.

The intention of the bylaw is not to put vulnerable people at greater risk, but due consideration needs to be given to the views of those working at the coalface of the homelessness problem about the possible consequences, intended and unintended, of such a move.


We must ensure that policy changes do not push vulnerable people further into the shadows.