Hundreds of people have come in from the outdoors and been helped with a new start in life by the Hamilton men's and women's night shelters over the past 20 years.

A celebration was held at Wintec last week to recognise the efforts of those people who had helped establish the Hamilton Christian men's Night Shelter in the late 1990s, followed several years later by the women's shelter.

Intended to provide temporary and short term accommodation for people with nowhere else to go, the initial men's night shelter was established in the late 1990s following the loss of a series of cheap hotels and boarding houses in Hamilton.

The move was further prompted by the New Empire Hotel fire in 1995 and was backed by church-based organisations including the Methodist centre, the Catholic St Vincent de Paul and the Dinsdale-based Crosslight Trust.


The Monckton Trust provided a building, which had previously been the Admiral's/Mandarin restaurant in Rostrevor St, rent-free and the Hamilton Christian Men's Shelter Trust was officially created in August 1999.

New trust chairman and recently elected Hamilton city councillor Ryan Hamilton said the aim had been to establish the men's shelter in a building owned by the trust. Suitable premises were found close to Winz in Angelsea St and opened in 2012.

Last year the shelter received a major boost when the Gateway Church made a donation of sufficient size to allow the trust to pay off its mortgage and freehold the building.

"The shelters cost more than $300,000 a year to run and the trust is dependent on support from Winz and donations from charitable organisations. The gift from Gateway took a huge amount of pressure off and will allow us to plan for the future," Mr Hamilton said.

Recently appointed shelter manager Jo Turner said the men's shelter could accommodate 27 and is at, or close to, capacity all the time while the women's shelter has only nine beds and is constantly full and having to turn people away.

Long-term men's shelter manager Peter Humphreys resigned early this year and his place was temporarily taken by trust chairman Charles Flanagan prior to the employment of Turner as fulltime manager in August.

The trust board has also had a recent turnover with long-standing trustees, including Catherine Hodges, Lindsay Cumberpatch, Ngira Simmonds, treasurer Terry Chapman and immediate past chairman Charles Flanagan recently stepping down and a set of new faces has arrived. These are Lale Ieremiah, Anne Aitken and Bella Takiari Brarhe.

Mr Hamilton said the new trustees would bring a depth of cross-industry skill and experience to the table.


"The trust will review its position and purpose in emergency housing to ensure it offers the best help to its patrons in the best way, and in collaboration with other social housing and service providers."