The number of people being trespassed from Rotorua's Community Link has jumped, as the Ministry of Social Development trespasses more people from its offices.

In the 10 months to the end of October last year, 13 people were trespassed from Rotorua's Community link, up from the 6 in all of 2015. It's the highest number in the past five years.

The figures come as no surprise to Love Soup Rotorua founders Gina and Elma Peiffer, who help feed homeless and struggling people in Rotorua.

They said the level of stress and anxiety in Rotorua among some was incredibly high but it was important those frustrated with the ministry remembered the government agency's staff did a good job and they were there to help.


Across all the offices in Rotorua and Taupo 15 people were trespassed, compared with nine in 2015, 14 in 2014 and four in 2013.

The figures, obtained by the Rotorua Daily Post under the Official Information Act, showed while there were more people trespassed, the number of incidents which required police involvement had dropped.

Up until the end of October, there were seven incidents involving police involvement in MSD offices across Rotorua and Taupo. In both 2015 and 2014 there were 15 cases a year which required police involvement.

Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Mike Bryant said threatening behaviour was not okay.

"Safety of our staff and clients is our absolute priority - no one should come into a Work and Income office and feel threatened or scared."

Mr Bryant said while staff would do their best to help people who needed it, they also needed to make clear that threatening behaviour was not acceptable.

"With real people behind every threat and security incident recorded, it has real impact beyond the numbers on paper."

He said they had a duty to staff and clients to take behaviour seriously and if necessary take further action to keep people safe.


He said those who had been trespassed continued to receive their correct entitlement to assistance and are encouraged to appoint an "agent" to act on their behalf.

If this is not possible, arrangements around contact by telephone or email are put in place.

Acting deputy chief executive organisational solutions for MSD, Merv Dacre said before they issued a trespass notice site managers considered the seriousness of the incident or offence, whether it was the first and whether it was likely to happen again.

The person's attitude after the incident and whether they were likely to heed a warning letter and change their behaviour were also taken into account, Mr Dacre said.

He said following the Ashburton tragedy in 2014 where two staff members were shot dead by a member of the public, the ministry had zero tolerance for threatening and abusive behaviour towards staff and other clients.

"The ministry places a high priority on the safety of its staff and clients.

"Security incidents, including abusive or threatening behaviour towards frontline staff, are treated very seriously."

Love Soup Rotorua founders and Rotorua Daily Post people of the year, Gina and Elmer Peiffer, said they were not surprised the numbers were creeping up and they also offered their services to people having problems getting in to see local Ministry staff.

"The anxiety and stress with the people we are dealing with is obvious," Mrs Peiffer said.

"My husband Elmer has become a sort of agent for them and helps them deal with those problems."

Mr Peiffer said a lot of the homeless and rough sleepers in Rotorua did not even have identification, so they could not even get into the building.

"That period [to October 2016] was when we had the largest influx of homeless, some landlords were pushing people out of their homes so they could sell them, so of course you will be stressed out and agitated."

But, they said the situation could be a lot worse without support from ministry staff dealing with emergency accommodation problems.

"They have been really helpful and we deal specifically with them, without their help there would be much more people on the streets and they are amazing support people for us," Mrs Peiffer said.

Number of people trespassed from MSD offices in Rotorua/Taupo
2016 - 15*
2015 - 9
2014 - 14
2013 - 4
2012 - 7
2011 - 4
*Figures to October 31