Rounding up the city's homeless and getting them to self-isolate in motels has been a tough task. Journalist Kelly Makiha finds out if it's working.
Rotorua's homeless have switched their doorways, bushes or night-shelter mattresses for comfy beds, Sky TV and spa baths as they learn to self-isolate and stay within their bubbles.
About 100 of the city's rough sleepers have been put into Ministry of Social Development-funded motel accommodation - some in five-star motels - where they are being delivered three meals a day and are enjoying the luxuries experienced by visitors to the city.
The motel industry is being praised for opening their units, with at least one industry leader saying they were "doing the city a service".
Night shelter operator Tiny Deane described the first day of lockdown as "diabolical" but said everyone was now doing much better, had stopped their illegal drugs and alcohol consumption, and were living much cleaner lives.
"They have never looked so good."
Deane said the women and children from their Visions of a Helping Hand Trust women and children's shelter in Tarewa Rd were moved to the motels as well, as they were no longer allowed to live in communal spaces.
He said mental health services had visited the motels to provide prescribed medications and, where necessary, injections to those who needed them.
Yesterday nine staff members from addiction services throughout the city were coming to the motels to help those in need.
Deane said that, slowly, things were coming together.
"The first day was diabolical, the second day was dire straits. If I have hair after the first couple of weeks, I'll be surprised."
Deane, who is also staying at the motels with his wife, Lynley, said getting the message through to some of the homeless that they couldn't wander around or hang out with their mates was challenging.
"I've had to scream, swear at them, talk to them in a language they are used to. But now they are on the same wavelength and we are like a family."
Deane said families at Sulphur Point were given the options of staying in larger units while the rough sleepers were in units either on their own or in a small bubble with up to one other person they associate with.
"We've stopped the drugs coming in and there's a blanket ban on alcohol.'
Deane said that, while it seemed to be working, it was tiring.
"As soon as we step out, it's 'Tiny, Tiny, Lynley, Lynley'. I keep my distance and sometimes wear a mask. If there's a ruckus going on I chuck the mask and gloves on to break it up."
Jobs around the motels were being divided up, including maintenance and laundry, while keeping within self-isolation rules.
"They are clean as a whistle, we've never seen them look so good."
The motel owners and managers either couldn't be reached for comment or didn't want to comment.
Rotorua Motel Association chairman Mike Gallagher said he praised those motels who had opened their doors to the homeless.
He said moteliers were struggling to pay their rents and, for some, it was a necessity to stay afloat.
"They are doing society a service. A lot of those businesses are in survival mode. They are risking their brands but they are doing a good thing because they're taking these people off the streets."
Gallagher said those people were now experiencing luxury they could only dream of.
"We are all in this together to fight this horrible virus. If they can isolate in luxury, then why not?"
Rotorua police acting area commander Inspector Phil Taikato said the few "teething problems" on the first few days of lockdown had gradually disappeared.
"However, it is only understandable that, given the myriad of needs of some of our homeless, there will continue to be rolling issues to have to contend with."
Taikato said he was keeping communication lines open with Deane.
"I am pleased to know that mental health and addiction services are being provided at the motel. Police will continue to make regular visits to the motels engaging and educating on what compliance to the lockdown guidelines are and encouraging compliance."
Love Soup operator Gina Peiffer said lockdown had meant it was no longer providing meals for the homeless or rough sleepers as they were all in motels and unable to walk or drive there.
However, it was still providing meals on Saturdays and Sundays to the 20 people in lockdown at the Housing Hub Trust, a small group of recently released prisoners or formerly homeless who were fed Monday to Friday, Peiffer said.
She said Love Soup was now busier than ever with its distribution service, which involved putting food packages together donated from supermarkets and other organisations and distributing them to different areas of the community.
She said the distribution timetable was posted on its Love Soup Facebook page and there were strict rules around collecting the items.
'We pre-pack food and hand through car windows or, if on foot, maintain distance and instruct them to get a bag and go."
She said they were already seeing new faces of people now facing hard times or out of work.
From a tent in Sulphur Point to a motel
Rotorua's Graham Bockman is urging fellow homeless people to be grateful for what they've been given as they face the next few weeks in isolation.
Bockman had been living in a tent at Rotorua's Sulphur Point since the end of last year with his partner.
On ACC for a hand injury, he intends to get back to work this year once he has recovered. He and his partner didn't choose to be homeless but had been unable to find a rental property.
Last week, they were moved from their tent to a motel in Fenton St where they could self-isolate safely.
Bockman said that, while having Sky TV and a spa bath was nice, the downside was they had to give up their dog.
"That's the gutting part."
He said one of the food distribution helpers from Waikite Valley had kindly offered to have their dog for a month.
"He's done us a huge favour."
Bockman said he was glad they were not at the same motels as those who used to live at the night shelter as he wasn't too impressed with their behaviour.
"I've driven past them a few times on the way to supermarket and by crikey it's not a good sight. They were all out the front, throwing things up in the air. Sometimes I think they should have shipped them off to Waikeria (Prison) to be honest with you."
He said their sacrifice was to live the next month without their dog, and the others should make sacrifices too.
"[Otherwise] it's a total disrespect for the place and no appreciation for those who have given it to them."