Te Rākau Taumatua
The big tree that provides a sanctuary for all birds to stop and rest; a place where they can be safe and looked after, regardless of where they have flown from.
Rotorua Housing Taskforce
In 2020 Rotorua Lakes Council called on the Government to focus its attention on Rotorua to help develop short, medium and long-term solutions to the housing crisis.
A Taskforce of government agencies, iwi and council was established in March 2021 to provide better support and outcomes for people living in emergency housing or at risk of homelessness.
The Taskforce brought together Rotorua Lakes Council, the Ministry of Social Development, Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga – Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities and Te Puni Kokiri alongside Te Arawa partners and social service providers.
The aim of the Taskforce was to develop immediate short term solutions to improve the environment for whānau in emergency housing and the wider community, while more permanent housing solutions, which require more time to develop, were delivered.
Housing is one of the biggest issues the Rotorua community is facing.
The city’s housing and homeless challenges were not created overnight. Since 2014 Rotorua has experienced strong population growth which has created significant pressure on the housing market (median rents up by 54% and house prices by 84%). Those pressures include an ongoing shortage of affordable housing, a shortage of rental properties, and a shortage of state or community housing. All of which have been amplified by the effects of COVID-19 which saw the need to urgently house hundreds of people who needed to safely isolate during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
Rotorua Lakes Council, in partnership with Te Arawa and the Government, has committed to delivering the outcomes identified in the Homes and Thriving Communities Strategic Framework to deliver more housing and to ensure communities are supported, safe, healthy and connected, with homes that match needs of our people.
Te Rākau Taumatua: Rotorua Housing Place-Based Action
The Taskforce moved quickly to develop recommendations for a number of actions that were presented to Ministers Megan Woods and Carmel Sepuloni. Those recommendations were approved by Ministers in May 2021.
The approved recommendations set out a number of actions to relieve short-term housing issues and ensure whānau with children in need of stable housing are well-supported and have access to the facilities they need.
Those actions included:
- Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga – Ministry of Housing and Urban Development contracting suitable motels specifically for emergency accommodation with an initial focus on whānau with children.
- Wrap-around social support services for whānau and children in contracted accommodation, and improved support for people in motels with emergency housing grants.
- A new community-led housing hub – Te Pokapū – including collective social services, iwi and agencies to holistically support and place people in need of housing
- Short-to-medium term housing supply solutions.
What’s been achieved:
Contracted motels for whānau with children
Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga – Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has contracted 13 suitable motels which now provide dedicated housing for whānau with children. These have facilities that meet whānau needs, such as safe sleeping space, laundry and kitchen facilities and outdoor spaces for tamariki.
Rotorua-based social service providers WERA Aotearoa, Visions of a Helping Hand and Emerge Aotearoa are managing this contracted accommodation and are supporting whānau to access the help and services they need.
Two-year resource consents granted
Resource consent was later sought by the 13 operators contracted by the Ministry for Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) to enable them to continue providing emergency housing for a further five years.
Hearings were held in October 2022 before a panel of independent commissioners. On 15 December 2022 the commissioners released their decisions, granting two-year consents to all 13 applicants, with conditions.
Community Liaison Group
A Community Liaison Group was required to be established for the duration of the resource consents held for contracted emergency housing at the 13 sites in Rotorua. The Terms of Reference for this group are available (PDF, 125KB) and meeting minutes as follows:
A community-led housing hub - Te Pokapū – is currently operating in Rotorua to holistically support and place people in need of housing, based on a kaupapa Māori approach. Led by Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue, supported by the Ministry of Social Development, it involves a collective of local providers and agencies working together.
For singles, couples and others not housed in the contracted whānau accommodation, the Ministry of Social Development is continuing to focus on enhanced support and suitable motel accommodation.
Rotorua Lakes Council is supporting this work by continuing to process consents for any moteliers that wish to provide emergency housing in Rotorua.
Looking to longer-term solutions, more supply of housing is critical.