29 Jun 2016

Minister defends TPK's record on homelessness

3:19 pm on 29 June 2016

Homelessness is too big an issue for Te Puni Kōkiri to deal with on its own, the Minister of Māori Development has said, defending the department's spending on the issue.

Te Ururoa Flavell speaks to the Māori Affairs select committee hearing this morning.

Te Ururoa Flavell speaks to the Māori Affairs select committee hearing this morning. Photo: RNZ / Aaron Smale

Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell was challenged by Labour MPs this morning about what Te Puni Kōkiri was doing to help homeless families.

Mr Flavell, who was speaking before the Māori Affairs Select Committee, outlined Te Puni Kōkiri's spending priorities.

He told the select committee there were several areas the Māori development agency was focused on, including land and healthy housing, but whānau well-being was its top priority.

"Whānau is the first thing. Whānau is to be the basis of all Māori development, their desires, hopes and aspirations," he said.

But he was challenged by Labour MPs Nanaia Mahuta and Kelvin Davis, who asked how the department was helping homeless families.

Mr Flavell said it had contributed $10,000 to Te Puea Marae, and staff had also been providing assistance.

The south Auckland marae has been taking in homeless families in response to numerous reports of people living in cars.

But Mr Flavell said the problem of homelessness was too big for just Te Puni Kōkiri to deal with.

"All these difficulties cannot be placed on my shoulders. It's not for TPK to sort out, it's for the wider government," he said.

Mr Davis was also critical that the minister did not know how many families had been helped by the Whānau Ora programme, saying the government had eight years of reports.

Mr Flavell said the programme had helped numerous families but he did not have the numbers in front of him. He offered to give a written answer to Mr Davis' request.

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