For the last 12 months a cabin in Te Kuiti campground has been home for Jack Wirepa.

"This is my home home bro," he says. "This little square box. I think it's eight by eight and it's the only accommodation I can get in Te Kuiti at the moment. And I've been living here twelve months."

But at the end of next month Mr Wirepa and about 20 other residents, including six children, will be forced out of the camping ground.

The Waitomo District Council, which owns the land, is closing the facility. They say it's "not of an appropriate standard to provide an accommodation option to the travelling visitor". In other words it's too rundown for tourists.


Mr Wirepa says tourism is being prioritised over the local people who live in the district. "They don't care about the local people. It's all about money. All of this is about money."

"If the council makes me homeless, come the first of September I'm gonna take a tarp down to the main street and hoik it over Colin Meads' leg so he can hold my tarp up and I'll live in town as a homeless person.

"If that's what the council want us to be then I'll be the best one I can be. Any tourist and that that come to town. I'll beg off them and tell them why I'm doing it."

Louese Perawiti has lived in the camping ground for three years, but she's unsure where she'll go next.

"I don't know I'll just look around, I don't know, try and double up with family again I suppose. But most of our family has got families in with them anyway, so even that's gonna be like overload," she says.

The Waitomo District Council issued a written statement saying that providing low-cost housing for the vulnerable isn't their responsibility.

And because the cabins are without running water and bathrooms, the council believes they don't meet visitor standards, despite the nearby kitchen and bathroom block.

Mr Wirepa is adamant. "I'm not worried about myself. I'm a single bloke, I don't mind living in the main street of Te Kuiti. But those solo mums with children over there, that's bad. If they've got to go out on the street because they've been trying their hardest but there's no accommodation in Te Kuiti."


Miss Perawiti says "I just hope that they do keep this open, to help us out a little bit longer anyway, until something appropriate comes along."

While there are discussions for a new campground to be built in the next few years - residents say it's a long way off, and this facility shouldn't be shut until a new one opens.

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