Te Puea puts homeless families in touch with employers

10:14 am on 1 March 2018

Ihaka Rehua, who has been at Te Puea Marae in their temporary housing for four weeks with his wife and six children, is one of several at a meeting with potential employers.

Temporary housing for families set up at Te Puea Marae, 12 July 2017.

Temporary housing for families set up at Te Puea Marae, 12 July 2017. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

He's currently unemployed but is trying hard to overcome the barriers that have stopped him from getting a job, and spoke about his background and the issues he faced.

"Coming from a gang background, drugs, criminal convictions, all the things that are associated with that kind of lifestyle, I'm slowly bringing myself out of that lifestyle and I'm proud of where I'm at today.

"I've made a lot of progress but I've still got a long way to go."

Te Puea Marae has been helping homeless families for nearly two years and are once again asking potential employers for help.

The marae, through its Manaaki Tangata programme, has helped 202 people including families get into homes, but realised these whānau needed more than a roof over their heads. Many also needed stable employment.

Te Puea Marae, 12 July 2017.

Te Puea Marae Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Potential employers from the private sector have been invited to the marae to show them what they do and ask for jobs.

Telnet chief executive John Chetwynd has worked with Work and Income at getting people trained and into jobs in their call centres for years. He said he had come to Te Puea to see how they could help.

"I love what is being done here. As a white man, we should be exposed to more of this sort of thing, you get perceptions about what is going on and this gives you a whole different view of it, it's great."

Mr Chetwynd said they provided on-the-job training and the main criteria for potential employees is willingness and committment.

"Coming to work is the biggest one, drugs is an issue and it's very difficult when you've failed a drug test, but the commitment and the will to give it a go is the main thing."

Te Puea Marae chair Hurimoana Dennis said they organised the meeting in hope of improving employment outcomes and opportunities for the homeless whānau they were working with.

Hurimoana Dennis farwells B and her family at Te Puea Marae. 24 June 2016.

Hurimoana Dennis Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

He said he learned a lot himself at the meeting and now knows what they need to do to get families job ready.

"Were a lot clearer now about what we need to do and we're also a lot more confident there is going to be a good ground base of resources or jobs sitting at the bottom for our people."

Mr Dennis said the next step is to confirm commitment with companies who want to help and getting their whānau job ready.

Ihaka Rehua said he was trying hard to become employable, and after the hui was seeking training to get his forklift and trucking licenses, a step towards his dream job.

"My dream job would have to be a master builder, so I can go back home and build my papakāinga and build papakāinga around the motu."

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