11 April 2019

Media: Radio Waatea
Topic: Te Ahurei role at Council

Enquiry

Dale Husband sought an interview with Council CE Geoff Williams and Te Arawa Lakes Trust board chair Sir Toby Curtis regarding the role of Te Ahuirei at Rotorua Lakes Council, currently being advertised.

Response

Sir Toby was unavailable. Key points made by Mr Williams included:

Monty Morrison (Kaitiaki Ahurea Māori) has taken our relationship with Te Arawa forward, now we need to focus on the next steps in building this relationship and seeing how we can help Te Arawa in its vision for the future

There are three key attributes we are looking for in a candidate:

o   With mana to work effectively with Te Arawa (to ensure we can support Te Arawa in what it is setting out to achieve)

o   Who can walk the halls of local government (to address the question of how we enforce change); and

o   Has the ability to bring people together

This person will be part of Council’s executive team and will not be working in isolation. He/ she will be working alongside the executive team including our Kaiwhakahaere Māori, Gina Rangi, (Council staff) as well as working alongside Te Arawa entities including Te Tatau o Te Arawa and Te Arawa

This person will help us progress challenging conversations and help facilitate discussions such as the Rotorua Wastewater Treatment Plant for example:

o   How do we dispose of sewerage? What options can be considered? (Spraying into the forest/ or disposing into the lake – we need to have a joint understanding)

Rotorua has a unique landscape and it’s important that our district does this sustainably

Applications for Te Ahurei close on the 30th of April

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Media: Rotorua Daily Post
Topic: Whittaker Road development consent

Enquiry

I have spoken to the owners of Love Soup who said there was a growing homelessness issue Rotorua and the face of homelessness has changed from singles and alcoholics to full-time working families. 

But these families, who are earning little more than those on the benefit, cannot access help from certain agencies because of their income. But their income was too low to afford much more for than the basics, let alone the  [sic]

"Every time you sell a house, you make a family homeless," she said. 

Instead of homeless, she said we need to start calling them displaced as sometimes you will get three families under one roof but that did not mean that two of them were not homeless. 

They said the homeless were being put into accommodation designed for tourists which was taking. They said with the housing crisis "we are stockpiling the homeless" and something needs to be done  now. 

They said there had been a rise in suicides among the homeless community too as people found the pressure and sense of failure too high. 

  1. How is council addressing the growing issue? 

  2. How is the issue of homeslessness in Rotorua measured? 

  3. Has homelessness negatively impacted tourism ie the accommodation? 

  4. Will there be extra housing made available to slow down the rise in 

  5. Is the council aware that people are quitting their jobs to access benefits? What is the repsonse to this? 

Further questions:

I spoke with [real estate agent] Steve Lovegrove and he put the following towards the council:

"What are we doing in terms in Rotorua not to resolve the homeless issue because yes that's one part of it but what are we doing to resolve the fact that we have more people coming to Rotorua and we haven't got enough housing construction to sustain it? 

What's the plan? How do we mop up the housing demand that we have and how do we speed that up? 

Social welfare is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff that costs the taxpayer a lot of money but we need to look at the top of the cliff. 

Where's the provision for our housing? 

We need places people can stay across the whole income range."

Further additional questions:

just sending this now to be put to council first thing but Love Soup said they had seen stable families become homeless, parents stress and become depressed, which trickled down to the kids who then start failing at school and start distancing themselves because they know they are homeless. 

"The effects have led to tragedy for some. We lose about a dozen homeless each year to suicide and a number to murder or other crime. They are incredibly vulnerable. Homelessness screws with your head and everything you thought you knew.

Life is never the same again even when they are re-housed. Homelessness has a long reaching effect sadly."

What systems are in place to help those in dark places because of homelessness? What is being done to prevent suicides? Are actions being taken? 

And what is in place for tamariki who also fall victim to homelessness, whether in poverty or not? 

Response

From Strategy Group Manager Jean-Paul Gaston:

Council has been concerned about homelessness in the local community, supports the work of MSD and its other partners and is guided by MSD and others with expertise in dealing with this complex issue.

The Ministry for Social Development is the lead agency providing services to address homelessness, including emergency housing/accommodation, and Council is a partner with MSD and other agencies such as Housing NZ, social service providers and voluntary groups.

Council has previously expressed its support for MSD's Housing First programme (which was announced for Rotorua last year) as a potential long-term solution. Please contact MSD for any updates regarding this.

Council will continue to support this and the local collaborative approach to finding and supporting long-term solutions.

In terms of housing provision, there is a spectrum of housing issues which includes homelessness. Council has previously looked at options for expanding the provision of currently council-owned and operated social housing through partnership with private organisations but this did not prove viable. Council continues to work closely with Housing NZ to try and increase social housing stock in Rotorua.

More new homes would free up existing homes for purchase and rental. Council works closely with landowners and developers to firstly facilitate the opening up of more land for housing development and to work through consenting requirements and there are a number of developments in the pipeline. District Plan Change 2: Pukehangi Heights aims to boost the supply of potential land for subdivisions in that area but as with all other potential developments, more housing is dependent on landowner/developer decisions to proceed.

Council has undertaken a range of initiatives to contribute to addressing the issue of homelessness in Rotorua, including some practical actions last winter to address some immediate needs. See below actions undertaken by Council:

  • Facilitated meetings to discuss the issue of homelessness and potential short and long-term solutions (these were attended by the likes of MSD and local agencies and organisations involved in addressing various issues relating to homelessness);

  • Assisted groups providing food for local homeless people including assisting with providing appropriate locations and arranging gazebos;

  • Liaised with Watchdog, Police, Safe City Guardians and Parks contactors about not disturbing people who are sleeping in parks and reserves;

  • Worked with support volunteers to monitor and open shower facilities during the week for the homeless to use;

  • Extended opening hours for toilet facilities in CBD for homeless to use;

  • Supported Visions of a Helping Hand to obtain consents for a Night Shelter;

  • Provided community grants for organisations that provide support to the community for the next three years;

  • Council staff met with some of the homeless community to discuss their needs (this resulted in the likes of showers and toilet facilities being made available);

  • Worked with MSD to ensure the Ministry had a presence in the homeless drop-in centre to provide relevant information, assistance and support.

Response to further additional questions relating to mental health etc:

Council does not have the expertise to be able to answer these additional questions which relate to what other agencies do and what other agencies have expertise in and insight into.

Questions relating to mental health and suicide prevention should be referred to the providers of these services such as the Lakes District Health Board or the Ministry of Health or national organisations which provide mental health and suicide prevention support and services.

Questions relating to crime should be referred to the police.

For questions relating to support for vulnerable children, go to Oranga Tamariki – the Ministry for Children.

Questions relating to children failing at school should be referred to the Ministry of Education and/or the local Principals Association.

Have you spoken to local MPs? They may have an overview of these issues and the services and initiatives aimed at addressing them.

Have you spoken to local organisations which are working on housing families such as LinkPeople? As experts in the field they may have an overview or expert opinion.

Page reviewed: 14 May 2019 4:28pm