Despite efforts Whakapiki Ora homeless programme to close

By Mānia Clarke

Despite efforts by Manurewa Marae to keep their Whakapiki Ora homeless programme going, the 12-week assistance initiative will close next Wednesday.  Levi Tahitahi and Monica Hughes have received support by the marae for the last six weeks and say programmes like Whakapiki Ora must be available to help the many people who are still homeless.

After being homeless for 6 weeks, Levi Tahitahi and Monica Hughes are preparing to move into their new home, thanks to the Whakapiki Ora programme.

"I think every marae should be doing it, you know, every marae.  Every town in New Zealand, you know there's homeless everywhere, yeah, I think they should keep the programme going," said Tahitahi, "It's a must, it's a need."

For the last month, the marae have been in talks with the Ministry of Social Development in an effort to keep their doors open. But the proposed funding by MSD was not enough to sustain the services, forcing the marae to discontinue the programme.

Whakapiki Ora spokesperson Tunuiarangi McLean said, "It's quite disappointing especially seeing the success of the programme. They've received state homes, private homes, I really feel sorry for them, so sad, the government didn't take into consideration what we proposed."

"It's just going to be sad when we all part.  There's a few of them here who don't have a house.  The programmes over on Wednesday.  I hope they get housed by the time it's over," said Ms Hughes.

Since the programme started 11 weeks ago, 72 whānau have been assisted, 28 whānau have received new homes and seven families are yet to be housed.

McLean said, "The homeless must continue to be supported by the government because they're still here.  There are many in Papakura, also in the city."

"It's all here for us, WINZ is in here, Housing NZ is in here.  They should have more places like this," said Tahitahi.

Next Tuesday evening a celebratory meal will be held for the remaining families at the marae, speeches and gifts will be presented, like a CD of the song Whakapiki Ora, composed by the Whakapiki Ora families.

The following night the same will be held for supporters, funders, the community and volunteers.