There's just one week to go before residents of the Te Kuiti Camping Ground are forced to leave. And as the days tick by, many still have nowhere to go.

Kevin Kinnane has been living at the campground for nearly two years because he has nowhere else to go, but for the last few weeks he's been worried.

"I have not slept well. It's because of fear... worry! Where I could go and live," Mr Kinnane says.

The Waitomo District Council owns the land and leases it to the campground operator.
They decided to not renew the lease for a number of reasons, Mayor Brian Hanna says.


"No-one was coming to camp there. Our Trip Advisor reviews were awful. We had an audit done from the NZ Motorhome Association or NZ Motor Camp Grounds and that was very very, negative about the site.

"The third one was the health and safety aspect. This is not social housing. This is fairly poor conditions and these people are not being well catered for," the Mayor says.

But the camping ground operator, John Te Huia takes a different approach.

"I started taking them (locals) in when people turning up were seasonal workers. Some of them are locals who can't get houses and they end up staying longer than necessary until they can get a house," he says.

Some camping ground residents say the problem is the housing shortage. Effectively the campground has become emergency housing for those struggling to afford rent and pay bills. For others, there are domestic violence issues.

"Do women with two children go back to a husband who beats her?" asks Mr Te Huia. "This is the situation that I was stuck with and any human being with some sort of concern for people in the whole world would take them in."

The Council does provide some social housing but according to the Mayor, it's full. He says they're working with local Iwi, community groups and the Ministry of Social Development to find a sustainable solution for the social housing issue.

"Unfortunately we're in a situation now where there is a housing shortage but that's only arrived at us in the last year," says the Mayor. "It's a difficult situation. What has happened is the halo effect of Auckland in the last 18 months has created a desperate shortage of housing, but it's happened quite quickly."


Local National MP Barbara Kuriger backs the council saying social housing is actually the responsibility of Central Government in Wellington.

"We just need to get the agencies to make sure that we get appropriate places for them. It's pretty cold in Te Kuiti at this time of the year and if people approach us we will do what we can to help them," Mrs Kuriger says.

But social services have left their run at solving the problem to the last week, and the stress on the residents is significant.

Mr Kinnane says he's considering drastic measures to try get somewhere safe to live, "I've actually thought of doing something to my body which means like, cutting myself and then I could end up somewhere else. I'm drinking a lot at the moment, I am a drinker but I'm drinking a hell of a lot more because I am worried!"

Last month when Local Focus first visited Te Kuiti Camping Ground, Jack Wirepa wasn't sure where he was to go - but he's got some good news.

"There was four missed calls when I came back from the shower yesterday. Then I got to read the message, 'Housing Corp - can you please ring urgently'. So yeah, I gave them a ring and yeah, they got me a pad in Hamilton, so yeah, I'm stoked, bro!"

There are still eleven other residents looking for somewhere to go before Thursday.

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