One of the men who has benefited from He Korowai Trust's efforts on behalf of the homeless had a special gift for Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy when she arrived for afternoon tea on Monday.

Kenneth Hereora presented her with a kete he had made for her, fashioned from toilet tissue.

Dame Patsy was very impressed, saying it would be given pride of place at Government House in Wellington, in one of the cabinets where gifts received by Governors-General were displayed.

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy receiving the kete made for her by Kenneth Hereora.
Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy receiving the kete made for her by Kenneth Hereora.

She also promised to tell the guides where it had come from, so they could tell visitors its story.

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"I know you will succeed; I can see the sparkle in your eyes," she told Mr Hereora as she accepted the kete.

He Korowai CEO Ricky Houghton had a not so quiet word of warning, however. Mr Hereora, he said, obtained the raw material for his art from council toilets after hours, "so you might be done for receiving stolen toilet paper."

Mr Houghton told Dame Patsy that the trust was currently providing accommodation in Kaitaia's former hotel for 35 homeless people, with more for men with "family violence problems."

"They go to work every day instead of going to prison," he added, "and after a couple of weeks everyone sits down and looks at what's going wrong."

Dame Patsy's itinerary in Kaitaia, which began a three-day visit to the Far North, included a citizenship ceremony at Te Ahu on Monday.