- Date published:
8:00 am, July 16th, 2017 - 11 comments
Categories: grant robertson, housing, national, paula bennett, Politics, same old national - Tags: housing crisis, Hurimoana Dennis, norm kirk, Te Puea Marae
New Zealand used to be a land where everyone had a chance to have a decent life. Norm Kirk put it well in this description that Grant Robertson has referred to many times:
What New Zealanders want is somewhere to work, somewhere to live, someone to love and something to hope for.”
We have drifted far from that ideal. Nowadays far too many people do not have somewhere to live. And they are dying because they do not have that most basic of human requirements.
On July 1, 2017 Keith Johnson died in Onehunga. Stuff had this touching article about his life which included this:
A well-known homeless man who had a cheeky smile and lovable nature died on a bench in an Auckland cemetery.
Keith Johnson, died aged 57 on the same bench he had sat on most days for the past four years in St Peter’s cemetery in Onehunga on July 1.
Johnson was not in the best of health, and his alcoholism may have contributed to his death, those close to him say.An outpouring of love and messages have been placed on his bench including table spread, flowers and tomato sauce.
The public has responded to Johnson’s death with an outpouring of grief. Mementos including a surfboard, table spreads, flowers and notes have been left at the bench he used to occupy.
Constable Don Allan would regularly walk the beat in the morning around the church and always looked out for Johnson.
“Keith was a loveable person and always had a cheeky smile,” Allan said.
“He made friends easily and touched the hearts of those who had dealt with him.”
Allan said many of the homeless in Onehunga chose to live on the streets, but he constantly checked on them and encouraged them to seek housing.
Well done Constable Don Allan but this should not happen in New Zealand.
And then just over a week later another homeless person died in Papakura.
From the Herald:
A homeless man has been found dead, huddled under his sleeping bag at the back of a church – the second known such death of a homeless person in two weeks as a polar blast grips the nation.
The man was found on Tuesday morning as Manurewa Methodist Church set up its weekly soup kitchen for the homeless.
Manurewa mum Beverley Losefa, who organises the soup kitchen, thought he was sleeping in. But when they served the first cup of tea and he still hadn’t risen she became worried.
Police were called and confirmed the man had died, before they cordoned off the area.
Losefa was heartbroken to see the man die without his family. She spoke through tears about how lonely and cold he must have been to take his final breath outside the church they call “the corner of hope”.
“I’d never forgive myself if it was someone I knew. I hope no one loses someone this way,” she said.
“We know what it’s like to lose a loved one. We all cried, even the minister did.”
Again well done Beverley Losefa. But no one should have to deal with this sort of event. Not in New Zealand.
And in related news Te Puea Marae is gearing up again to look after the homeless.
From Radio New Zealand:
The south Auckland marae that opened its doors to the homeless last year is about to do so again.
Te Puea Marae in Mangere helped 181 people last year, using 1200 volunteers over three months.
Starting on 18 July, it will again take people in – for six months.
Spokesperson Hurimoana Dennis told Morning Report this time they’ve been working hard with government agencies to provide the service.
“We believe we can still … support homeless families. We did it last year – we learnt some things, and we put people into homes.
“It’s an opportunity … to work with agencies, to show agencies what best practice engagement looks like for our Māori families, our communities and those who are homeless.”
Mr Dennis said the marae would be taking a more measured approach than last year, helping 25 people at a time for six to 12 weeks.
Of course the Government is pouring resources into Te Puea Marae. Last year it was the very public example of how badly the homeless problem was out of control. Initially Paula Bennett’s office chose to smear him rather than help him. That a small urban marae had to show the Government how to handle the homeless crisis and was treated in this way was an absolute travesty.
The problem is multifaceted. Those of us who own houses think that things are great. We are rich, rich, rich …
Meanwhile teachers and police officers and nurses cannot afford to buy houses in Auckland.
And families are paying huge amounts of money in rent that leaves them with little room for anything else.
And families whose parents have jobs are living in their cars because they cannot afford any better.
And people at the bottom of the pile are dying because in godzone they cannot afford to live in a home or a car.
How is that brighter future looking for you all?