Manawatu Standard

Red tape stifles dreams

Man attempting to tackle housing crisis faced with bureaucrat­ic hurdles

- Rachel Moore

Bureaucrat­ic hurdles have temporaril­y stifled the dreams of a man with a piece of land and a goal of housing the homeless.

Te Kai Po Ahuriri, 49, has secured a 100-year lease for land on Old West Rd in Linton for free.

The 11-hectare block is home to 20 people, who live in a collection of homemade shacks, vans, caravans and cabins.

Ahuriri and his wife Missy have decided not to take in any more people until facilities on the land are upgraded, including toilets, drinking water and roading improvemen­ts.

He caught wind of Palmerston North City Council concerns about children on the property and the toilets, and made the call to limit numbers to not jeopardise giving people with no options a place to live.

Ahuriri said he was saving Work and Income hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency housing costs, and the people were happy.

They would rather be on the farm then in emergency housing, he said. It was a stress-free lifestyle, and people were able to get back to the basics and focus on themselves after rough periods in their lives.

He said another 25 people wanted to move in, but he couldn’t house them.

The farm has a gas shower, two compostabl­e toilets, and access via a dirt road. Drinking water isn’t available and he is buying water for people to drink.

Ahuriri said the goal was to upgrade the facilities as soon as possible, but was working on limited funds. ‘‘People think you need money to do something like this, but you don’t.’’

Will, determinat­ion and passion were what’s required.

Social Developmen­t Ministry regional commission­er central Graham Allpress said the Linton facility was not one of its emergency accommodat­ion providers, and was not actively monitoring the health, safety and sanitation standards on site.

People who provided accommodat­ion to its clients were expected to meet the relevant regulatory standards imposed by authoritie­s, including local councils. ‘‘We would encourage anyone who feels they have nowhere else to go to come speak with us. We can provide tailored support to help people address the barriers they face to accessing and sustaining suitable housing.’’

He said staff could connect people with support services, such as budgeting advice and addiction services, to deal with problems.

‘‘We take safety issues in emergency housing very seriously and find that the vast majority of clients are respectful towards other guests and the local community.’’

Allpress said if a client said they didn’t feel safe, it would work with them to identify alternativ­e accommodat­ion and encourage them to report criminal activity to police.

Emergency housing contributi­ons were capped at 25 per cent of a person’s income, leaving clients with three-quarters of their benefits and other assistance.

City council planning services manager Simon Mori said officials were looking to meet with Ahuriri to work through building and resource consent matters related to activity on the land he leased at Old West Coast Rd. ‘‘No caps on the number of people living on the land [have] been put in place by the council at this time.’’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in Palmerston North last week, said emergency housing was a short-term solution, but was still a roof over people’s heads.

‘‘I’d rather them be in emergency accommodat­ion than a car, but I’d rather them be in a home than emergency accommodat­ion.’’

She said the Government had given Ka¯inga Ora extra borrowing capacity and would see 18,000 social transition­al houses built.

It was also working on changing the Resource Management Act to help people build houses faster.

 ?? WARWICK SMITH/STUFF ?? Te Kai Po and Missy Ahuriri have agreed to place a temporary cap on the number of people living at Old West Rd.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF Te Kai Po and Missy Ahuriri have agreed to place a temporary cap on the number of people living at Old West Rd.
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