Community and political leaders are demanding an immediate independent inquiry into Rotorua's emergency housing situation ''for the wellbeing of our most vulnerable".
Their comments come after a television programme showed what National describes as "appalling scenes of intimidation, violence, misery and crime" in Rotorua's emergency housing, illustrating the Government's "utter failure on housing" after five years in office.
A Rotorua charitable trust that provides emergency housing in Rotorua says it supports any investigation into contractors dealing with emergency housing.
National housing spokesman Chris Bishop has spoken out following the Sunday broadcast, saying Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in complete denial about the Government's failure over housing and its consequences.
Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi, co-leader of Te Pati Māori, urgently requested that Housing
Minister Megan Woods launch an immediate investigation into government agencies and contractors dealing with Rotorua's emergency housing - describing the situation as "an absolute train wreck".
He said the Sunday programme had revealed "huge allegations" that put the most vulnerable at risk of abuse, all while being paid for it by the state.
"An immediate independent inquiry must be launched for the wellbeing of our most vulnerable. These allegations are criminal and cannot go without independent investigation.
"The inquiry must review every single dollar that has been thrown by the Government to keep our whānau locked up in hotels."
He said any additional spending as well as additional emergency housing referrals
"must immediately be stopped until the inquiry is wrapped up".
Restore Rotorua chairman Trevor Newbrook told the Rotorua Daily Post he had "a lot of empathy" for those living in the motels.
Newbrook said he believed there needs to be an "urgent investigation" into operators running emergency housing motels in Rotorua and the wraparound services they provided.
"There were serious allegations on that programme last [Sunday] night, so I think that needs to be looked into.
"I am not saying anyone has done anything wrong but after that, a proper independent investigation to see what services are being provided."
He said people living in motels were vulnerable, but so was everyone else living in the city.
"What we have created in Rotorua now, we have made everyone vulnerable. There is so much crime, the place isn't safe."
Rotorua MP Todd McClay, of National, said alleged issues raised were "extremely concerning" for motel tenants and Rotorua on the whole.
Following this, he said any motel accommodation in the city that was not suitable "must be closed down".
"The Government has spent tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money. The question they need to answer is, on what? They can't just dump people in Rotorua, throw money at the problem and wash their hands with the consequences."
TVNZ reported since 2017, charitable trust Visions of a Helping Hand had received nearly $14 million from the Ministry of Social Development and HUD.
"I have had issues like this raised with me over a long period of time, in turn, we have been asking Megan Woods questions about this. She needs to front up, be accountable and fix this for Rotorua and all of New Zealand who will be wondering how a Government who says they care can let this happen."
McClay asked, "How a Government could let this happen".
"It's government money that is being given to this charity, and others ... Questions over how these people are being treated and what the trust has done are extremely important. But to me, this rests with the Labour Government who have created this business."
Asked to respond to allegations in the Sunday broadcast, Visions of a Helping Hand Charitable Trust chairman Eruera Maxted said it was important to respect the privacy and dignity of the whānau.
"Irrespective of the allegations I can assure you that due process is always followed due to the high scrutiny we are under."
He said the charity would "support any investigation" into emergency housing contractors.
"Visions provide a raft of housing support through the housing continuum and funding received is relevant to these services provided."
It employed 47 staff and procurement was in line with "all other government contracts."
He said none of the Visions contracted motels should be closed.
Maxted said Visions was currently supporting 150 households that had moved from contracted emergency housing into houses.
Housing Minister Megan Woods said as soon as she heard complaints of a "potentially serious nature regarding the operation in Rotorua" had been made, she asked officials to work with police to determine whether "client safety was at risk".
The written statement said the following day, on April 5, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development came back with the assurances that:
•Police had advised HUD already had "the mechanisms in place" to take care of "persons utilising the services".
•All of our service providers had Te Kāhui Kāhu social service provider accreditation.
•The security providers used were certified with the NZ Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority.
•The security service allegations had been passed on to the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority.
•Te Pokapū (the Housing Hub) was checking on potential vulnerable whānau, including door knocking each person at the Rotorua International Motor Inn to ensure they were safe and had the support they needed.
She said HUD had not received advice from police that further action was needed.
A month ago she sought independent verification that HUD was taking all the appropriate steps to ensure client safety.
"We took the precaution of getting a QC to check whether there is anything more we should be doing and to review all the actions that have been taken."
Draft findings determined the ministry had taken reasonable steps at each stage of the process on the basis of information available at the time.
"Client safety is and always has been my top priority. All concerns raised by clients are taken seriously," Woods said.