A large cohort of Hawke's Bay's homeless community has now had a dose of the Covid vaccination, after a rev-up from a man who helps feed them.
The transient community, which often rejects authority, is one that requires significant persuasion, especially during lockdown.
Up stepped Hastings Church pastor Warren Heke.
Heke said the church had been working with rough sleepers for five years.
"We have had between 12 and 20 come to us, and a majority of those fall in the homeless cohort, and we've been working with them," Heke said.
"We've been providing them with breakfast and dinner during lockdown.
"In Hastings, close to 40 people identify as homeless 80 per cent of the time."
He said during lockdown the church became aware that all of the homeless going to the church were unvaccinated against Covid.
"There were three main reasons behind the homeless not getting the Covid vaccine," he said.
"The first one was that a majority of the homeless population have poor health literacy, and rumours and misinformation about the vaccine was stopping them from even considering it.
"The second reason was the stigma around them being homeless. They didn't want to go to a vaccination clinic where they believed people would frown upon them, look at them as second-class citizens.
"And the last reason stopping them from getting vaccinated was bureaucracy."
He said the church set out to educate the homeless population over the two weeks of lockdown around the vaccine.
"We [Heke's wife Sarah is a registered nurse] told them about the Covid vaccine, encouraged them to ask questions around it and because we have a long-term relationship with them, they listened," Heke said.
"They were not going to go to the normal vaccination places ... so I got in touch with the DHB a week or so ago, and they set up a mobile clinic."
On Monday at the church, 19 people were vaccinated.
Heke said the number of people who were vaccinated was nearly all of the homeless population that seek help at the church.
"We still have about two to three more who need to be educated a little bit more," Heke said.
Hawke's Bay DHB's Covid-19 vaccination team has been working with a number of agencies to help coordinate vaccination for homeless (rough sleepers) in Hawke's Bay, including Hastings Church, Choices and Whatever it Takes.
Heke said he was part of the homelessness network that includes councils and police, which assesses what can be done for rough sleepers.
"It's a really complex situation. As a church we have looked at the Christchurch City Mission to see what they have done in terms of housing the homeless," he said.
Every night of the year Christchurch City Mission helps people who have nowhere else to go by offering up to 30 emergency beds for men and 12 for women.
They also provide meals and their outreach team's social work and mental health experts work with people sleeping rough on the streets to look after them and help them into housing.
"In Hawke's Bay we are relying on motels, hotels to help us and it's not always ideal. MSD and Housing First are making services available," Heke said.
"During lockdown, under the schedule 2 of the health order, any service helping the mentally ill and homeless had special exemptions, and when dealing with vulnerable people you have to have a graduated response.
"We had a van which was able to transport homeless people to temporary accommodation.
"Right now one of the key things we are working on is preparing for another lockdown."
Whatever it Takes Trust (WIT) runs an outreach centre for homeless in Napier.
General manager Shirley Lammas said the centre, leased from owners Kainga Ora, had been closed for three months because of staff shortages.
But it could open again soon.
"We are now in the process of liaising with Kainga Ora again about coming in to do some repairs in there, and we're hoping to reopen the outreach towards the end of September."
In Napier, Clive Square and Marine Parade facilities such as the Sunken Gardens and the Soundshell had been places of night-time refuge for some rough sleepers, along with doorways and recesses of buildings in the city, pre-lockdown.
Police Hawke's Bay Area prevention manager Inspector Martin James said a lot of work had been done by police, councils and agencies since the alert level 4 lockdown started on the night of August 17 to better accommodate rough sleepers or street dwellers.
At least 20 were in the category at the start of the March 2020 lockdown, but James said there were 14 to 15 at the start of the alert level rises, and accommodation had been found for all but one or two.
Daily early morning police patrols were being maintained through Clive Square in Napier, and the latest did not find any of the street dwellers in the area, he said.
"We have been able to house a lot of the rough sleepers – the vast majority," he said.
About a dozen have been accommodated at Te Poho o Tangiianui Marae, Greenmeadows, where a custodian said the credit went to all of the agencies, especially the Ministry of Social Development, while a police sergeant has been visiting on a daily basis.