Kāinga Pūmanawa initiative to tackle homelessness in Whāngarei

By D'Angelo Martin

Whangarei is facing a housing crisis with hundreds of families waiting to get into state and many more living rough in cars, tents and under bridges, that is according to local health and housing providers.

Kāhui Tūkaha, One Double Five Housing and Ngāti Hine Health have united to tackle the crisis after agreeing that enough is enough. 

Today the housing services launched the Kāinga Pūmanawa initiative which uses Māori frameworks and Whānau Ora principles to benefit and support those who are living rough.

Spokesperson for Kāinga Pūmanawa, Liz Cassidy-Nelson says, "I've had the privilege of knowing and meeting these wonderful amazing people who've been challenged by their current living environments and so today's kaupapa is for them. 

"We know the challenge in terms of housing is there.  However, our commitment to our community, our valuable community is that we will stand with them".

Operational Manager of Housing for Kāhui Tūkaha, Marama Hetaraka says, "It's really all about whanaungatanga, it's about manaakitanga, it's about rangatiratanga.  So, I think that in itself kind of says that [it's about] tikanga, Māori kaupapa Māori, compiling all people."

It is to be expected that Kāinga Pūmanawa initiative will support 40 homeless people per year.  One person has so far been housed.

Tenancy Coordinator for Kāhui TūKaha Waimaria Bidios says it is a challenge, but the end result makes it worth it, "Seeing them happy when they get into a new home and being able to support them through some issues that they may have and also sustaining their tenancy, that's a pretty satisfying aspect."

The Kainga Pūmanawa initiative looks at working together with stakeholders, those who have experienced homelessness, local landlords and real estate agencies.

"With this particular collective, you've got Māori services that work alongside tauiwi services so it's really about telling the community that the issue is not about Māori or about Pākehā but about Aotearoa as a nation," says Hetaraka.

Kāinga Pūmanawa organisers say that this is only the beginning, they hope that a ripple effect of these initiatives will be seen throughout the country.