Gang member warms the hearts of Palmerston North's homeless

By Talisa Kupenga

A Facebook video of Palmerston North gang member Te Kaipo Ahuriri has reached more than 255,000 views after he and his family spent the weekend tracking down and feeding the homeless.

Ahuriri and his wife want to open NZ's fourth Love Soup Kitchen come December to continue helping the needy.

Te Kaipo Ahuriri and his family have been busy warming the tummies and hearts of Palmerston North's homeless for four weeks. He says people scavenging in bins were a frequent sight.

Te Kaipo Ahuriri, Tūhoe, Tūhourangi says, “When you sort of don't have family to fall on in hard times you're on your own out there and I could understand where they were coming from. Being adopted I sort of in a way have felt homeless my whole life and I've always brought people home that I see on the streets either for a feed or somewhere to sleep for the night and it started from there.”

He hits the streets from Friday to Monday when people struggle the most. He says most of the homeless he meets are male between 30 to 60 years old.

Ahuriri says, “The first day there was probably four or five just and on the Saturday but yesterday there were about 11 people, and new faces that I haven't seen on the street before. I actually lost a dear friend and he was found on the streets of Rotorua last year by the Love Soup Kitchen that's how I made contact with them.”

Ahuriri and his wife want to open NZ's fourth Love Soup Kitchen for the homeless in Palmerston North. He hopes people can look past his tattoos and his gang patch to see the good it can achieve.

Ahuriri says, “Being a patched gang member you have an influence on people but a lot of them use it for the wrong ways this is where we want to go using our powers if we have any to influence people in the right way rather than young people thinking 'oh gang member cool, he's a bad ass he'll go do this and that' but they might say now 'oh he's doing nice stuff you know hopefully it makes people better people in the end.”

Ahuriri will meet with Love Soup Kitchen at a later date to help realise his goal.

He says the viral reach of his video was good to raise awareness of the homeless in the community.