Working on Our Hidden Homeless series I've had a rethink about what constitutes homelessness.
Previously, it was the old man on a park bench who reeked of alcohol, or the younger, just-as-broken man who sat on the pavement with a sad-eyed dog and a cardboard sign asking for money.
Here in Northland, we don't see these people.
We have a different kind of homelessness, hidden in dilapidated dwellings in paddocks with no running water or power.
Our people are sleeping in cars and on couches in overcrowded homes and spilling over into barns, garages, caravans and tents.
A workmate recently commented on New Zealand as having a fine veneer of being a first world country which could easily fall away to reveal that it is, in fact, not one.
Northland's housing deprivation is one area – I believe our roads are another – where third world elements are seeping through this veneer and becoming blatantly apparent.
When photographer Michael Cunningham and I drove to Waitangi to meet Eric Monk, who was, until recently, one of these homeless, the gap between the haves and have-nots couldn't have been more obvious.
To the right of the roundabout at the end of Puketona Rd was Paihia, with its sparkling apartments and facilities for holiday makers.
We turned left.
Just a couple of kilometres away was the papakāinga housing development where 30 whānau live on ancestral Māori land.
Eric now lives there with his sister Sharee Tito, who heard the Whakamanamai Whānau Trust's Whare to the Whenua scheme to get struggling Northlanders into small portable cabins.
Sure, it's only a Portacom, but Eric finally has a place to call home after years of living in prisons and caravan parks.
Sheree can sleep at night, knowing her brother is warm, dry and safe.
Meeting Eric and hearing similar stories from the trust and Solomon Group has been an eye-opener.
Sometimes people need a helping hand and they need a second chance.
Too much of the time bureaucracy gets in the way of action and practical solutions.
But if we're to truly call ourselves a first world country, our Government needs to make this issue a priority.