Groups working with the homeless and needy in Tauranga are calling for help ahead of a massive children's sports event, saying dozens of people who relied on emergency accommodation are struggling to find a place to stay.

But the Ministry of Social Development says help is available if needed.

Accommodation New Zealand Bay of Plenty chairman Tony Bullot said AIMS Games guests generally reserved rooms well in advance and "many" emergency accommodation guests were displaced for the week.

"One of our members has displaced 10 families and three individuals," Bullot, also the owner/operator of 850 Cameron Motel, said on Friday.


The manager of a holiday park in Tauranga confirmed to the Bay of Plenty Times that two families who had been staying on emergency accommodation grants had been told they could not stay during AIMS Games week because of prior bookings.

She said the holiday park also had a lot of people seeking emergency accommodation for that week, but she had to refer them elsewhere.

Tommy Wilson, of Te Tuinga Whānau, said the social agency had 47 clients with nowhere to stay during AIMS Games because of pre-bookings.

Those people are staying in motels, hostels or campgrounds on week-to-week emergency accommodation grants, he said.

"We're struggling. Maybe there's somewhere that's got a hall or something just for two weeks?

"It's no one's fault. I don't want to blame the council or anyone. It's about the vulnerability of some families when something like this crops up," Wilson said.

"It's a bit of a crisis, and it's a struggle."

He said his organisation was trying to encourage a whāngai solution, where members of the community adopt a family during a time of need.


Curate Church was helping to facilitate that.

Church volunteer Angela Wallace said she had spoken to at least 14 people (a mix of couples, individuals and families) who had been told their emergency accommodation was unavailable during AIMS Games week.

"These people are phoning us in desperation," she said.

"These families are facing having to sleep rough or in their cars and we couldn't just stand by and let this happen when so many of us have spare rooms in our own homes."

She said a family of nine had already been placed with a host family.

The Curate community and people from other Tauranga churches were opening their homes and offering to host displaced families, Wallace said. But more hosts were needed.


"We co-ordinated a similar response last year and hosted a number of families – this year looks like it will be a lot bigger."

The church will also be supplying extra food to community meals like Milo Night in central Tauranga, which is preparing to feed more people during AIMS Games week.

Milo Night organiser Tracey Carlton said people she had spoken with were stressed and anxious about where they would sleep that week.

A dad with two children told her at last Monday night's community dinner that he was "really worried about his family".

Simone Cuers, Tauranga manager of The People's Project, said of the three people her team was supporting who were in emergency accommodation arrangements, only one would need to vacate during the AIMS Games.

"We have already found alternative accommodation outside Tauranga for that person."


A Tauranga City Council spokesman said none of the social agencies the council worked with had contacted the council with concerns about the issue.

"Our expectation is that MSD and their providers have planned well ahead to manage emergency accommodation at this time of year. We know they're working hard to make sure everyone has a place to stay."

The Ministry of Social Development's Bay of Plenty regional commissioner Mike Bryant said emergency housing clients were seen every seven days, "this is the people and families temporarily staying in motels, hostel and campgrounds that we're helping to find longer-term housing solutions".

Bryant said the ministry worked with those people well ahead of the AIMS Games to ensure they had somewhere to stay during the tournament.

"No client has told us they have been asked to move from their emergency accommodation for the AIMS Games to date – there may be people staying in motels that haven't told us, and we want to hear from them if they have concerns."

He said the ministry had talked on Friday with all of the people it was currently supporting with emergency accommodation and confirmed they had somewhere warm, safe and dry to stay.


"If people are asked to move, we want to know so we can help them."

Bryant said the ministry did forward planning every year to ensure people who needed emergency housing during the AIMS Games had a place to stay, and it was confident it was meeting the current need.

He said the temporary nature of emergency accommodation did mean it was an ever-changing environment and with days to go until the AIMS Games, things might be different next week or the following week.

"But we are prepared for any potential changes. We have rooms booked ahead, and if needed, can help people move around the district into other emergency accommodation."

Bryant encouraged families, individuals, community groups and housing providers to talk with ministry staff urgently if they needed help or knew of anyone who needed help.

The 2018 Anchor Aims Games will run from September 9-14.