Colourful duvets lay across two single beds in the lounge of the Cameron Rd motel.

The edges are all neatly tucked in and the television is on.

Metres away in the kitchenette, a few basic food items sit in the cupboard.

Children's clothing and spare blankets are folded into tidy piles on the shelves next to the small dining table.


Everything has its place.

The door to the only bedroom is wide open where a double bed is jammed next to a single bed. A foam mattress is wedged up against the window.

Kristal Heke is sitting on the double bed holding baby Heaven-Leigh while Indiana-Nova is fast asleep in her wahakura (flax-weaved bassinet).

The twin girls are six-weeks-old and were born two months prematurely.

But, for the past nine days, Heke, her partner Justin Marimate and their six children, the eldest aged 13, have been living in the motel unit.

Marimate works full-time as a painter and the family qualifies for social housing, however, there are no available spaces in the city.

The emergency accommodation is the last resort after the family had to move out of their private rental in Merivale last month.

Heke has spent hours looking for rental properties and going to house viewings but has had no luck.


"No one wants to rent to a family this big," she says.

"I've been to so many house viewings, more than I can count on my hands and toes three times over. It's really disheartening going to viewings and never getting offered a house."

The 32-year-old is concerned about the health and well being of her young family living in a confined space.

Last week, Heke was told baby Heaven-Leigh has a hole in her heart. Heke's 3-year-old son has respiratory problems, which get so bad the little boy needs to be taken to the hospital often.

"It's nuts in here," she says, looking around the lounge.

The parents sleep in the double bed, the twin babies are in their wahakura on a single bed, a mattress is pulled into the lounge floor where one child sleeps, another gets a single bed in the lounge and the two younger children top and tail in the last bed.

The weekends are the worst when the children don't have school or pre-school to attend, Heke says.

"I can't let them play outside because they'll bolt and it's not fenced in at the back. And they are too sick to go outside," she says.

"I just want a house for my babies."

The twins' specialist, paediatrician Dr Vivienne Hobbs, says ideally all children should be living in warm, dry, well-insulated houses to prevent infection.

The Ministry of Social Development's regional commissioner for the Bay of Plenty, Mike Bryant, says he is conscious of the difficulties facing the family.

"Since April, when they had to move out of private rental accommodation, we've been doing everything we can to help them find a home."

While looking for a suitable housing option for the family, the Ministry is paying $1120 a week for them to live in the motel.

There are currently 1220 public housing tenancies in Tauranga and 82 transitional housing places, all of which are full.

Bryant says transitional housing is freed up more often and it will be likely a suitable option will become available in the next few days.

"We'll continue to support the family to stay at the motel until they can move into a more permanent home."

Can you help?
Please get in touch if you have a rental property suitable for the Heke/ Marimate family.