Marae opens its doors to those in need

7:45 pm on 25 May 2016

An Auckland marae which has opened its doors for those in need is calling on others to do the same.

Te Puea Marae

Te Puea Marae Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Last week, Te Puea Marae offered shelter to the homeless and today they launched a support programme for those looking for help called Manaaki Tangata.

Four families have already come to the marae asking for help.

Te Puea Memorial Marae committee met with the Ministry of Social Development hoping to form a partnership in order to help whānau with immediate short term relief and coordinate the offers of support.

Marae chair Hurimoana Dennis said they were open to anyone looking for shelter but were also calling on others to come forward and support.

Social agencies have been unable to give the marae a clear number on how many people they could expect.

The marae can house 100 but with government housing stocks full Mr Dennis said people needed to offer up spare space.

"We know there are some whanau out there that have a big home and there is only one person living in it but they have three spare rooms.

"We know that there are sport, universities, churches that have available accommodation, facilities, beds that are suitable for short term placements - a whole range of people who we think can come and help."

Hurimoana Dennis

Hurimoana Dennis Photo: RNZ/ Tom Furley

Mr Dennis said they would work with those who came to the marae to provide some relief and support for winter.

"Those that come here will get Te Puea manaki, you'll get a cup of tea, you'll get a kai and then we have whānau that'll be able to do an assessment in terms of what their needs are and we're working with other agencies to see if we can find some placements for them out in the wider community."

The marae committee has asked for two full-time social workers to be based at the marae to also provide support.

"We have had some support from the community bringing in kai, clothing, people wanting to make donations, we'll take any support we can from whānau particularly those who have some accommodation because we want to build our database," said Mr Dennis.

"If whānau come here and we go through what there needs might look like, we might be able to call on some of these facilities."

Huia Brown-Rapana, a volunteer at the marae, said they had some people who had been sleeping under the Mangere Bridge come to the marae looking for a decent sleep, hot shower and a hot meal.

Ms Brown-Rapana has been one of the many helping sort through all the donated clothes and blankets.

She said they had been getting a range of everything but they really needed towels.

Some who came to the marae were looking for a decent sleep, hot shower and hot meal, said one of the volunteers.

Some who came to the marae were looking for a decent sleep, hot shower and hot meal, said one of the volunteers. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Social agencies have been unable to give the marae a clear number on how many people they were are likely to expect.

Hurimoana Dennis said they would not turn anyone away but the priority was for Māori whānau.

The marae is accepting donations of non-perishable food, warm winter clothes, koha and alternative options for temporary accommodation.

Kaanga Skipper, marae board member and direct descendant of Te Puea Herangi who the marae is named after, said Te Puea helped many people in the community when she was alive and would be happy at what they were doing.

"I believe when she put the pou into the ground she put me in the ground to make sure I would be available and be here to carry on with the work that she has done."

Clothes and blankets are among the items that have been donated.

Clothes and blankets are among the items that have been donated. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

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