A multimillion-dollar Government programme that aims to end homelessness will launch in Rotorua next week, just over six months after it was announced.

Housing First aims to permanently house individuals and families who are homeless and support them to remain housed long-term.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the programme, which is already run in four cities, would come to Rotorua in October last year.

It can now be announced the doors to the programme will officially open next Wednesday after a pōhiri on Tuesday.


The Rotorua programme is a partnership between Lifewise, Te Taumata O Ngāti Whakaue Iho Ake Trust and LinkPeople and is the first iwi-led Housing First Collective in the country so has a strong kaupapa Māori approach.

Lifewise Rotorua service manager Haehaetu Barrett said that was its strength.

"The core driver in this programme is relationships.

Housing First Rotorua will address homelessness long-term. Photo / Getty Images
Housing First Rotorua will address homelessness long-term. Photo / Getty Images

"The principles of Housing First are not new. It's about who we are, where we come from, delivering for our people with heart."

In May 2018, the Government allocated $42.9 million over four years to expand Housing First to a further 550 households in regions including Rotorua, Wellington, Napier/Hastings, Whangarei/Northland and Blenheim/Nelson.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development couldn't specify how much of that was going to Rotorua as some negotiations were still under way.

Te Taumata O Ngāti Whakaue Trust team leader Jordon Harris said Housing First aligned with the trust's goals and they were looking forward to working with the community.

"The values of iwi have always been to support people ... Making positive steps towards a healthier and safer life, reduce harmful behaviours, set goals, integrate with the community and connect to iwi and whānau."


Harris said the Housing First team was "looking frantically" for homes.

The programme relies on partnering with local landlords and property developers. It offers landlords property management and guaranteed rent for a year.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development funds providers to deliver Housing First and pays rent subsidies while providers reach out to homeless, find houses, manage tenancies and properties and provide social support.

The Housing First Rotorua team. Photo / Ben Fraser
The Housing First Rotorua team. Photo / Ben Fraser

Tiny Deane from Visions of a Helping Hand, which runs the homeless shelter, welcomed the programme.

"I think it's going to help the people that need housing, that have fallen through the cracks of society."

Deane estimated about 200 rough sleepers walked through the doors of the homeless shelter per week.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the council had advocated for Housing First as a potential long-term solution to homelessness issues in Rotorua.

"Council has always been supportive of the great work that these organisations have been doing in our community and it's wonderful to see the Housing First programme progressing."

A small pōhiri from local iwi to welcome key partners, stakeholders and members of the homeless community to the opening of the new office will take place on Tuesday.

About Housing First
- Programme to house and support people who have been homeless long-term or homeless and facing multiple and complex issues.
- Recognises it is easier for people to address issues, such as poor physical or mental health, substance abuse and unemployment, once they are housed.
- Provides housing quickly and then tailored support for as long as required to help people stay housed.