After months of bouncing from motel to motel, the first tenants in new emergency housing in Whangarei were overwhelmed to have a place to find their feet.

It's been a tough year for Carol Tahu-Job and Antony Tahu, who until late last year were both working fulltime and in their own home.

Then, Mr Tahu was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo throat surgery which left him unable to speak.

His wife quit her job to care for him and due to her own health problems.


During 2016 they had "bounced" around temporary accommodation in Whangarei and Auckland while they worked around surgery dates.

But come Monday the couple was the first to move into Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Charitable Trust's new nine-unit complex in Kamo, where they could stay while they found a permanent home.

"I've never done anything as wonderful as today," said Mrs Tahu-Job, following the complex's opening ceremony, where she cut the ceremonial ribbon with Mayor Sheryl Mai.

"We mainly just really want to highlight the wonderful things this charity is doing."

The new pad added to the good news for the couple, as further surgery meant Mr Tahu's speech had returned over the past month.

"Last night was the first time in months we've had a full eight hours' sleep, it's just less stress," Mrs Tahu-Job said.

She said she had been into "every shop in town" looking for work now the couple had some stability and could get back on their feet.

"It's a new start and I'm hoping to have a job before Christmas. He's fiercely independent now and I need to be back at work."


"I think she's already getting sick of me now I can talk again," Mr Tahu said.

The new facility would double the emergency housing trust's capacity in Whangarei, but this was still not enough to keep up with demand, said chair Adrian Whale.

"Sadly, we know that even having these extra units will not provide enough accommodation for the many people in crisis at the moment," he said.

"We are turning away two or three families a day."

Mr Whale said homelessness in Northland was "solveable".

"But it will not be solved through our trust becoming bigger and bigger. We would rather see a collective effort concentrated on providing a home for people to live long-term."