Rotorua is set to see the homeless shelter open its doors in a new location, although it will be a few weeks before work is completed at the new site.

In a statement on its Facebook page yesterday, Visions of a Helping Hand Charitable Trust said it had met with Rotorua Lakes Council to clarify the issues around the consent required for sleeping at the night shelter, also known as Sanctuary Manaakitanga, currently in Eruera St.

"We are working with the council to resolve this issue and we appreciate the time they are taking to help us ensure the consent is processed as quickly as possible," the statement said.

This follows claims from shelter organiser Tiny Deane this week that the council was "heartless" after red tape had forced him to close the shelter last Saturday.


Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick hit back at those claims during a press conference on Thursday morning saying "not on my watch would I have a Grenfell Tower on our hands".

Visions of a Helping Hand's Julia Fonotia said the Eruera St location was ruled out as a viable option for a night shelter some weeks ago, because the work required to bring it up to scratch was "too costly and would take too long to complete".

"Instead, our focus shifted to another site, which council have confirmed can achieve consent, all going to plan.

"Work is already under way at this site. Sadly this means Eruera St must remain shut. However, we have been allowing our clients to access the premises each afternoon for showering and washing laundry, which will continue until the new site is ready."

Fonotia said the council had provided the trust with a clear outline of the process required to apply for building consents, as a result of a change in use, at the new site.

"We are satisfied with the explanation given."

She said it had been advised no paperwork was required from Visions of a Helping Hand because it was being completed by the structural and fire safety experts and background work was already under way some weeks ago in consultation with the council.

The council is awaiting the consent application along with final reports from the experts. Draft reports had already been submitted and some minor questions had been raised.


Visions of a Helping Hand anticipated the paperwork would be submitted and consent would be approved by the middle of next week.

Fonotia said when they had consent building work would start, which was estimated to take one to two weeks.

"It depends how much manpower we have how quickly we can get it done.

"Once work is complete a code of compliance certificate will be issued from council, then sleeping will be allowed."

She said Visions of a Helping Hand were immensely thankful for the support from the public.

"We want to state that we don't support any personal attacks being made toward council employees. They are simply doing their jobs. Any issues we have raised are at an organisational level only."

A Rotorua marae will be opening its doors to the homeless until the new shelter opens, but it did not want to be named.

"The Ministry of Social Development has agreed to cover the cost of security at the marae," Fonotia said.

A Rotorua Lakes Council spokesman said the Visions of a Helping Hand statement aligned with comments already made by the council.

"As the council has also previously stated, staff will continue to progress what needs to be done with the parties involved and as quickly as possible."