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Tu Tangata Maraenui addresses Parliament

Tu Tangata Maraenui addresses Parliament

The Maraenui community group Tu Tangata Maraenui presented evidence to the Social Services Select Committee in Parliament on Wednesday 10th April 2013. Some of the damaging effects that the Government’s housing policy has had on the community was shown in photos and testimonies by representatives of the group Kathy Gemmell, Annabel Brown and Minnie Ratima.

Ms Gemmell described to the committee how the 104 empty houses which have been left to vandalism and neglect changed the once vibrant community into a “sad, ugly looking ghetto-like suburb” in less than a year. “I live on the outskirts of Maraenui” Ms Gemmell said “and it is very noticeable to me when I go there and see the broken down, ghetto-type look that the suburb has now. Houses need to be filled so that they can be looked after by families in need of them”.

Ms Brown gave testimony of how 11 of her own family members have been forced to share a private three bedroom home including the garage as an extra bedroom due to the dramatic changes made to the eligibility criteria. The removal of two categories mean that this family no longer qualify as a high needs case because they have a roof over their heads. Ms Brown asked the committee “do you really want a homeless society?” and “are prisons being built to house the homeless?”

Ms Ratima pointed out how closing the HNZC offices nationwide and replacing them with an 0800 number not only makes it harder for people to communicate but also gave people a sense of disconnection from society. “Many people in Maraenui have limited means already and to try and explain their situation for needing a home over the phone causes stress and frustrations often resulting in ending the phone call’. There are no clear plans on what the Government have for Maraenui however there have been discussions on social housing providers picking up the housing issue even though there are no providers within Hawke’s Bay. “The Government’s plans to provide affordable housing needs to be replaced with income-tested rents in Maraenui” Ms Ratima said.

The committee thanked the group for their presentation and will be considering their evidence at a later time. The group then met with the Associate Housing Minister Tariana Turia who, after hearing their plights, decided to schedule her assistant to visit Maraenui and assess the housing issue further with the group.

Tu Tangata Maraenui meets weekly upstairs at the EIT Maraenui, Tuesday nights 5:30 pm. Meetings are open to the public.


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