prepared by Tracey McLeod – Member of Restore Rotorua and Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers
2014 Rotorua City Council called a community meeting to discuss the growing issue of homelessness in Rotorua CBD.
2015 Love Soup charitable organisation feeds homeless people at night in Kuirau Park and identifies that the homeless also hang out at Sulphur Point.
2015 Community agencies are reporting between 30 and 60 rough sleepers in and around the Central Business District. However, these figures may be an under-estimate. Research completed using the 2006 Census data had the Rotorua District with 81 people sleeping rough, 84 people living in non-private accommodation (boarding houses, motels and camping ground) 444 people living in overcrowded dwellings. A total of 609 people who are severely Housing deprived. (Amore, K, Viggers, M & Howden-Chapman, P (2013).
For over 10 years the Rotorua Night Shelter Trust has been working towards the establishment of a night shelter with little progress due to a number of barriers.
Sep-17 Sunrise Hikoi for the homeless a success, despite the rain. A Hikoi to raise the awareness of Rotorua’s homeless and the work of Love Soup had a good turnout despite the rain.
May-18 Emotional plea from Rotorua Hikoi for the Homeless, organised by Renee Kiriona. More than 120 people marched along with placards, flags and chants to the front doors of the Rotorua Lakes Council today during the Hikoi for the Homeless. The group stressed that a night shelter was urgently needed in Rotorua to prevent the homeless from dying.
Jun-18 Tiny Deane from Visions of a Helping Hand Trust sets up night shelters – 2 in Rotorua and 1 in Taupo. He investigates setting one up in Auckland. Tiny Deane has to close Rotorua night shelter on Eruera Street, due to Rotorua Lakes Council red tape. Visions of a Helping Hand’s Tiny Deane lashed out at the council on Tuesday saying in his view it had been “snobbish” and “heartless” over red tape that forced him to close Rotorua’s night shelter on Saturday. Chadwick says Housing First was the right policy to work towards. Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has given assurance that any of those people could be housed, all of them. They don’t need to sleep rough, they just need to register with MSD and they will be accommodated.
Jul-18 Neighbours unhappy with “intimidating” behaviour outside Rotorua’s drop-in centre. Spitting, urinating, aggressive behaviour, people
running around high on synthetics, vulgar language by some of the users of Rotorua’s drop-in centre has some neighbouring businesses feeling intimidated.
Tiny Deane says he’s put measures in place to reduce the impact and doesn’t know why people are “picking on him”. The shelter on the same street as a bar and Ministry of Social Development building was like “putting all the problematic people in one area”.
Aug-18 Pukuatua Street night shelter officially opens in Rotorua.
Night Shelter must move, says fed up publican “Give us back our town, these people are taking it over”. Retailers, shoppers and tourists have endured weeks of threats, violence, intimidation and abuse from some of the people who use or are associated with users of the night shelter on Pukuatua St. Staff are being racially abused, spat at and Reg Hennessy himself was personally attacked.
Police, Rotorua Mayor, Tamati Coffey issued a joint media statement today, acknowledging the problem and detailing the action plan already worked on.
Jul-19 Homeless shelters funded by Tiny Deane who mortgages his home, have fed and housed more than 1000 people since opening a year ago.
Jan-20 Rotorua homeless have “nowhere to go” if moved out of parks and reserves. Emails leaked to the Rotorua Daily Post revealed a Council plan to move people (including the homeless) out of the district’s parks and reserves including Motutara, the lakefront and Kuirau Park. MSD Regional Manager Mike Bryant said the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development had identified Rotorua as a “homeless hotspot”.
Feb-20 Kuirau Park has become the day-time hangout zone for the homeless for those living in emergency housing and rough sleeping. Minister of Housing & Urban Development – Megan Woods says a government announcement signified the seriousness of problems and homelessness. A $175M fund nationwide was established. The trio of government, Rotorua Lakes Council and iwi were one accord over an urgent need for housing in what was termed “place-based assessment”.
Mar-20 COVID- 19 Level four Lockdown. The government removes homeless from the streets and cars and into motels, to stop the spread of the virus. Homeless people are removed from Kuirau Park.
Sep-20 Tiny Deane’s Charitable trust – Visions of a Helping Hands, is renting motels to house people after the COVID 19 pandemic forced him to shut his shelters for the homeless.
Dec-20 Rotorua homeless crisis – Meal service moved on from Central Mall to Kuirau Park. The service feeds up to 200 homeless from 5pm. There were reports of people working in the mall, feeling intimidated as they walked to their cars, vandalism and rubbish left behind.
Council Chief Executive Geoff Williams said the Council had discussions with the trust and agreed to allow it to use Kuirau Park.
The Ministry’s Auckland Regional Commissioner Mark Goldsmith said there was a housing shortage nationwide and the ministry didn’t proactively move clients around the country and send them to Rotorua.
Prime Minister Jacdina Adern says homeless in Rotorua is not a long term solution. But she would rather have “shelter than no shelter for all” for those in need. The long term plan is to withdraw.
Providing public housing and support was a “big focus” for government to ensure that motels were open again when possible.
When asked about MSD paying high rents to landlords to house homeless, Adern would dig further into whether this was an issue locally.
Jan-21 A petition addressed to Mayor Steve Chadwick, started by Meredith Herbert, calls for urgent Council action on city safety and homelessness in Rotorua gathers more than 1000 signatures in a week.
Rotorua Police area commander inspector Phil Taikato, said homelessness was a “complex issue” that continued to come to police attention in Rotorua. “Rough sleeping” begging or being homeless in themselves are not criminal offences, but police are called in from time to time to deal with issues around matters involving public disorder or complaints about anti-social behaviour. People are just not doing their jobs Rotorua advocate – Tiny Deane from Visions of a Helping Hands, takes aim at Police.
Tiny Deane says he will consult with Rotorua community over Base Backpackers and Lava partnership proposal for pensioner housing and a medical centre.
Feb-21 Businesses say no to housing homeless in CBD and do not support the idea of the Base Backpackers and Lava bar conversion.
Mar-21 Rotorua’s Lava Bar to remain open as Tiny Deane’s proposal for homeless elderly falls through. The proposal was met with public backlash and an online petition was started to stop the deal, resulting in 3600 signatures.
Rotorua has become a “dumping ground” for the country’s homeless, some locals claim. Government agencies and social service providers deny they are shipping homeless people to Rotorua. But there is evidence, that many of those in emergency housing in the tourist town are from other centres. Increased crime, burglary, theft, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, gangs dealing drugs, graffiti, litter, abandoned supermarket trolleys.
Brett Wilson – Watchdog Security, says crime has risen significantly in Glenholme and CBD in recent months.
Inspector Phil Taikato, area commander of Police says its just a perception there’s more crime happening down there (Fenton St)
Locals nickname Fenton Street motel strip – “MSD Mile” that used to be called the Golden Mile or Motel Mile.
Vision of a Helping Hands Trust started with 3 staff – now 49. They have 150 homeless on its books staying at two motels, managed by the Trust and 25 transitional houses. He says its simply untrue that he actively brings people to Rotorua from other centres. Deane says, “We do not bring in homeless people. We do not have to. We have too many already. Every person in this country has a right to come where ever they want. They are running scared for their lives. They come to Rotorua and end up on my doorstep, I am not going to turn them away. It is just a fact of life, manaakitanga, love, care no matter what”.
One motel manager said he estimated 80% of his emergency clients were from out of town.
National MP Todd McClay held a public meeting at the Te Arawa Bowling Club. Hundreds attended. It was about the roughly 2000 homeless people living across 45 motels in Rotorua. More than 500 concerned residents turned up to the public meeting to oppose the bussing in of outside homeless people into Rotorua. Sir Toby Curtis Kaumatua of Te Arawa, is not happy the ongoing bussing in of Homeless into Rotorua for emergency housing has continued.
The Mayor didn’t attend, as she would be “on the spot” and “under pressure from the “community” to answer aspects of government business. Councillors Fisher Wang, Peter Bentley and Dr Reynold Macpherson attended.
A man stood up at the meeting and said he had been given a voucher from MSD for a bus to stay in an emergency motel in Rotorua. He was from Whakatane. MSD response – The Ministry of Social Development simply does not proactively relocate people to Rotorua. It does not happen.
Apr-21 Alcoholics, drug deals, gang affiliations, domestic violence, emergency housing labelled as dangerous. Ministers were warned about the “risks to public safety” in Rotorua a year ago and that week-by-week motel accommodation is not suitable for families, or those with high needs. Causing further consternation is the Social Development Ministry’s approach of leaving it up to moteliers to make sure there’s no violence, harrassment or criminal behaviour and only responding, once an incident has occurred.
The owner of Hennessy’s Irish Bar in Rotorua, Reg Hennessy say’s he’s seeing crime, drugs, getting openly sold on the street, gangsters, youth gangs and while he supports those in genuine need being housed, there are “some horrible, horrible things going on out there”. “When you walk past a motel and you see Mongrel Mob colours hanging up in the windows, showing off so the whole world can see it, it doesn’t make me proud to belong to Rotorua anymore”.
The Rotorua bar owner says emergency housing is killing the CBD.
Government is now spending $1M per day on emergency and transitional housing.
More denials of origins of homeless people in Rotorua.
The government is not sending people to Rotorua – says Prime Minister Jacinda Adern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Adern, I think focusing so much on where are the people coming from and how can we stop the demand, actually we need to make sure they have houses.
Tamati Coffey – it’s a convenient narrative for locals to think its others and outsiders coming into Rotorua, but actually they are ours.
In April the Daily Post reported; On March 16, Councillor Fisher Wang made a written complaint that Councillor Reynold Macpherson’s comment on Facebook alleging the Council was “bussing homeless people in from other centres” was “factually incorrect”. I hope Macpherson retracts his statement, it is misleading and tarnishes our reputation as an organisation.
In response to Wang’s complaint, Macpherson said it has been his “probably incorrect assumption” at the time of posting the Council was “at least party to bussing” and he had removed the post and replaced it with another on March 11.
Councillor Macpherson was subsequently proved right. Council with nominal leadership of The Housing Taskforce, was party to the development and implementation of the homeless industry strategy, which included bussing as part of its creation. Nevertheless, the complaint was bundled with others, and at public-excluded meeting on 16 December 2021, a majority on council voted to remove Cr Macpherson from two council committees. Mayor Chadwick subsequently extended the ban on 28 January 2022 to include forums related to the committees.”
May-21 Substandard motels taken off government’s emergency accommodation list. Carmel Sepuloni has admitted some emergency housing is so bad, she’s told the agency to stop using it. She recently visited Rotorua. There are a few that actually I said to MSD, ‘stop using it’. That can be done in a place like Rotorua where there are a number of motel accommodation options.
Asked how long it could be before motels are stopped being used for the homeless. Sepuloni said she hoped to make good progress before 2023
Jun-21 The government has announced a suite of changes to emergency housing provisions in Rotorua.
Government will directly contract motels in Rotorua to deliver emergency housing
Wrap around social support services for those in emergency accommodation to be provided
Grouping of cohorts like families and tamariki in particular motels separate from other groups – ending the practice of mixed use motels
One-stop Housing Hub for access to services and support to be established
A taskforce from central government has been working with the Rotorua Lakes Council and Te Arawa iwi to provide better support and
outcomes for people living in emergency housing motels and the community.
Rotorua Lakes Council will help ensure applications for changes to consents to permit longer term stays in motels are processed efficiently.
It will take several weeks to assess and engage all motels.
Jul-21 Sorting Rotorua’s homelessness problems will take longer than anyone thinks – MSD Regional Commissioner Mike Bryant said. He made the admission when addressing a meeting at RLC on Thursday. Rotorua has a lot of long term underlying social issues. Gangs, drugs, crime, family violence he said. At present 700 people were looking for a social housing place in Rotorua.
MSD had now contracted 12 motels in Rotorua. He took potshots at media for being reporting negatively and inaccurately as possible. He appeared to take aim at the wider public noting, “people complained about parks for homeless people, night shelters, now we’ve got people in motels, and people are complaining about that. We’ll have people complaining about where the social houses are too.” WINZ is doing what it can to keep gangs away from kids in emergency housing.
Number of children living in motel reaches record high despite government’s pledge to combat child poverty.
9/07/2021 A father William James Sio has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years, for the murder of his Rotorua 5 year old son in emergency housing. Little Ferro-James Tiopira Sio – was severely beaten and murdered on 8th February 2020, while they stayed in emergency housing at a Union St property in Rotorua.
Aug-21 Rotorua hotel guests’ cars destroyed in suspicious blaze. Car fires at the Distinction Hotel are being treated as suspicious, police have confirmed. Council district development deputy chief executive Jean Paul Gaston replies to a LGOIMA request. Rotorua District Plan allows, through a Resource Consent application, for motels on Fenton Street to be converted to housing. Appropriate living conditions and management plans to address security and on-site requirements, such as noise, amenity areas, hours of operation and parking. In regards to resource consents, the planners need to follow the statutory process set out by the Resource Management Act, not what is requested in a petition.
Sep-21 Rotorua’s homeless crisis: Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick calls for end to “not in my backyard” mentality. Rotorua Mayor says residents can’t keep saying “not in my backyard” as the city looks to solve its housing crisis. Long term emergency or transition housing is not permitted under the District Plan in motels on main routes, as these premises are only permitted to have short term visitor accommodation.
To make this comply, a land-use change is needed. The Council had already approved a resource consent land-use change for the Boulevard Motel on Fenton Street, to have transitional housing, a process which was not publicly notified.
The Mayor said politicians were not, and should not be involved in the consenting process as it was regulatory, not political, but a process with decisions based on what’s in the District Plan.
“What I’m concerned and disappointed about is the growing call from residents to not allow certain types of perceived types of people in their neighbourhoods. We accept there is a need for housing, including social housing, and we can’t keep saying “but not in my backyard” especially without understanding what these types of developments can actually look like and how they will be managed”. Rotorua needs 1700 homes including transitional and public housing.
The Council had previously said Fenton St had been approved as a future area for residential development with the view of moving tourist accommodation to the inner city as part of the 2018 Spatial Plan.
Some Glenholme locals have been vocal in their opposition to more housing options in Fenton Street, saying it should be kept for tourists and restored as the gateway to Rotorua.
Resident Jenny Peace, has collected more than 1900 online signatures in a petition calling for Council transparency over consenting changes for Fenton Street.
Rotorua lawyer Kevin Badcock who initially publicly raised the resource consent issue of emergency housing in motels on main routes for long periods, said the resource consents for motels to be converted into household units should be publicly notified.
Council District Development Deputy Chief Executive Jean-Paul Gaston said the Council had always said that using motels as emergency housing was not a long term solution and that remained the case. MHUD motels are distributed across the city rather than all in one place and Council has always said that those motels would be fully assessed against the District Plan.
In September 2021, the District Plan – Area Specific Matters – Zones – Residential zones was updated. On page 14 – Conversion of Tourist Accommodation to household units, is added to the District Plan as a Restricted Discretionary activity.
Oct-21 Restore Rotorua Inc is launched to oppose more transitional housing. Council did not inform and consult with the local community when granting resource consent for Kainga Ora to turn Boulevard Motel at 265 Fenton Street into transitional housing. Ministry of Housing & Development (MHUD) had lodged 6 applications for motels to be converted into emergency housing.
Dec-21 Golden Glow Motel goes up in flames in Rotorua. The Golden Glow motel on Fenton Street is currently being used to house Ministry of Social Development clients and MSD Regional Manager Mike Bryant said 11 clients were staying at the motel.
Fire crews were called to motel fire at Four Canoes Motel on Fenton Street, which is a MSD accommodation provider.
A givealittle page is set up for Restore Rotorua to cover legal fees against Rotorua Lakes Council for resource consent applications to convert motels into household units for emergency and transition housing.
Feb-22 Prime Minister Adern – motel housing is a “stopgap measure” but no end date in sight for Rotorua.
Fire and emergency crews were called to a fire inside a room on the first floor at the Grand Treasure Hotel at Pukuatua St. The Grand Treasure Hotel is the top earner from MSD for emergency housing special needs grant for 267 clients, and was paid $3.44M by MSD.
Mar-22 Don Paterson and others commented on Newstalk ZB about the motels being used for emergency accommodation.
The topic was “Has Rotorua’s reputation been damaged by government/Rotorua Lakes Council housing homeless in our motels? What kiwis have to say. People phoned into Kerre McIvor’s radio show, sharing their visitor experiences of Rotorua – good and mostly bad.
On Friday 18th March 2022, Reg Hennessy from Hennessy’s Irish Bar, Trevor Newbrook from Restore Rotorua and Reynold Macpherson from Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group were all interviewed on the radio show. It highlighted the plight of the motels, given that the international borders were opening in April to Australians and then in May to the rest of the world. Where would the tourists stay? When the motels were full of homeless people. Mayor Steve Chadwick was interviewed in the afternoon on Newstalk ZB, talking about the letters she had written to the Minister of Social Development – Carmel Sepuloni.
In Mayor Steve Chadwick’s and Te Arawa Kaumatua Monty Morrison’s letter dated 24th November 2021, obtained by a LGOIMA request, “The perception is that Rotorua is being used as an emergency accommodation destination for anyone with any connection to our area. While local MSD staff continue to assure us that people are not being sent here, we have had members from our emergency housing community standing up at public meetings and announcing that they have come here from places like Gisborne and Opotiki with bus tickets and vouchers provided by MSD. We are extremely concerned that MSD continues to allow accommodation voucher holders to choose to live in motel accommodation of their choice, that does not have the wrap around support services that are provided in the MSD contracted motels. Our community is suffering due to drug use, violent behaviour, vandalism and other anti-social behaviours that they are seeing on a daily basis, in the proximity of the motels providing emergency housing. The perception is that those living in emergency accommodation are destroying our city and its reputation.
After no response from Carmel Sepuloni’s office, the Mayor Steve Chadwick wrote another letter on 15th February 2022. We have lost any community empathy and support and Council has been forced to invest in security patrols, cameras and additional cleaning and maintenance. This is not sustainable. People living inside and outside of our community feel that Rotorua is bearing the brunt of the housing crisis. The crime and anti-social behaviour occurring in the vicinity of emergency housing motels is clearly visible and this is adversely impacting on our community, our economy and our reputation as a visitor destination. Rotorua requests a change to the voucher system to one that provides management and appropriate wrap-around support to all clients alongside the system currently available to families in contracted motels. Can we also ask for your assurance that people are not being actively sent here and that given the scale of our problem, MSD be directed to to consider other communities for locating emergency housing clients.
MHUD have lodged Resource Consents for another 7 motels in Rotorua to become emergency housing. That brings the total number of of applications currently with Rotorua Lakes Council to 13, plus the Boulevard Motel. MHUD withdrew one application reducing the resource applications to 12, plus Boulevard Motel. Of the 37 motels on Fenton Street, 24 are emergency housing and 3 are for MIQ, or MIQ for army accommodation, leaving only 9 motels for visitors to Rotorua. 1 motel is closed for renovations.
6/03/2022 Black Power member Ryan Woodford is murdered at the Adelphi Motel in Taupo.
The motel has been operating as a MSD motel since February 2020.
30/03/2022 Kainga Ora buys two Rotorua properties for homeless housing developments. The government spent more than $4.6M buying two more pieces of land in Rotorua that will provde up to 80 houses for the homeless. Former English Language Academy on Pukuatua Street directly neighbouring the Rotorua Hospice and 3 ha of empty land on Owhata Road. Some say they’re worried about gang members and the developments eventually becoming “slums”. Kainga Ora will provide dwellings for homeless people most in need on the national Housing Register and people may not necessarily be from Rotorua.
16/04/2022 Secret Rotorua Lakes Council proposal to sell 10 reserves for social housing revealed.
The documents relate to a closed-door Rotorua Lakes Council “forum” on February 15 that reveals a proposal to pursue a local bill to allow the Council to sell the reserves. Under the proposal, 5 reserves would be sold to Kainga Ora, 3 to private developers, and two would become pensioner housing, owned by the council or philanthropic organisations.
They claim Kainga Ora has already created plans for five sites; Lee Road Reserve, Coulter Road reserve, High Street reserve, Steeles Lane reserve, and part of Turner Drive reserve. Other sites potentially up for sale would be Ranginui St reserve, Gallagher St reserve, 117 Clinkard Avenue, & Linton Park west at 16 Kamahi Place.
6/05/2022 Government report reveals nearly a third of Rotorua’s homeless in emergency housing are from out of town. This was despite repeated assurances from the government and MSD, the “vast majority” of people in Rotorua emergency housing are from the city, nearby towns, or have links to Rotorua. The report showed 1121 people went through emergency housing in Rotorua in 2021.
9/05/2022 One third of 120 family harm calls a week in Rotorua are to emergency housing motels, the Council says. Rotorua Lake Community Wellbeing Deputy Chief Executive Anaru Pewhairangi says “Between 5-10 families are coming to Rotorua each week with family harm safety plans. Those are people who have high-risk, complex needs, coming to our city, who do not have any association to Rotorua”.
11/06/2022 After pressure from Restore Rotorua, applications for the resource consents for the motels to be used as emergency housing have been publicly notified by public notice in the Daily Post in Saturday’s newspaper. It revealed for the first time where the motels will be located and how many homeless they intend to cater for. (Up to 1008)
26/06/2022 Man found with stab wound to chest, in critical condition on Victoria Street at 11.30pm outside EJ’s Dormitel, an emergency housing hostel. Former NZ First MP Ron Mark was visiting Rotorua and became a witness to the drama, which left other witnesses shocked and terrified.
28/06/2022 Rotorua City Mayor Steve Chadwick appeared on TV One news interview, saying, “Rotorua needs 6,000 houses immediately”.
This prompted Tracey McLeod to do an analysis, “Does Rotorua need 6,000 houses immediately?” No, in the summary of her report – 630 houses were required per annum, based on homeless projection and population growth.
8/07/2022 In the Daily Post article – Rotorua needs emergency housing for at least 5 more years, says Council boss ‘stark reality check’.
District Development Deputy Chief Executive, Jean-Paul Gaston referenced a market Economics report delivered to the Council early this year that said 6,240 homes were needed in the next 10 years. This matched Tracey’s report of 6,300 houses over 10 years – she was within 1% accuracy of the report provided to Council – only she did her report for free. It proved Mayor Steve Chadwick was incorrect in her statement on TV. Was her false statement merely paving the way for Kainga Ora to buy up reserves in Rotorua from Council to build more social housing?
11/07/2022 Submissions closed at 5pm today, on an application from Ministry of Housing & Urban Development for a resource consent to use the site and use existing buildings for contracted emergency housing for 5 years for the following 12 motels;
Lake Rotorua Motel – 131 Lake Road
Alpin Motel – 16 Sala Street
New Castle Motor Lodge – 18 Ward Avenue
Malones Spa Motel – 321 Fenton Street
Pohutu Lodge – 3 Meade Street
Union Victoria Motel 26-28 Victoria Street
Ascot on Fenton – 247 Fenton Street
Rotovegas Motel – 249 Fenton Street
Midway Motel – 293 Fenton Street
Geneva Motor Lodge – 299 Fenton Street
Ann’s Volcanic – 107 Malfroy Road
Apollo Motel – 7 Tryon Street
16/07/2022 Mental health and addiction staff helping homeless people at a Rotorua hotel have been removed for safety reasons after a client had a psychotic episode, coming down from meth. Lifewise has raised serious concerns about the suitability of the Four Canoes hotel housing homeless people with complex needs. The government contracts the Fenton St hotel for housing, but does not have Council resource consent for this. It is home to 30 residents, some with complex mental health and drug addiction issues. Lifewise staff believe the building itself was not suitable because it had breakable windows, too many entry points, blind spots and was on a busy road and the gateway to Rotorua.
Restore Rotorua Chairman – Trevor Newbrook “People need help and should receive it, but is the centre of Rotorua, on a main street, the appropriate place? Motels and hotels operating emergency housing in Rotorua do not have council resource consent because they are only consented for short-term visitors.
16/07/2022 Person injured in fire at emergency housing motel – Rotovegas Motel on Fenton St. The fire was reported just after 4.30pm, resulting in Police temporarily closing Fenton St and putting in diversions while emergency services attended the scene. All occupants of the building were evacuated with one person in a moderate condition after suffering from smoke inhalation.
16/07/2022 A bus shelter was damaged with its glass smashed outside Fenton Court Motel on Fenton Street today – as reported and photographed by Phil Spackman.
17/07/2022 Restore Rotorua – a group opposing emergency housing on Rotorua’s motel strip says a fourth fire in seven months is unacceptable. Rotorua MP Todd McClay has said that Fenton Street is not a good place for emergency housing and that the government was “using Rotorua as a dumping ground for the country’s problems”.
Restore Rotorua have had two media journalists request a copy of the Homeless timeline in the last two weeks.
17/07/2022 A “distressing” report has revealed crime and police callouts around homeless motels in Rotorua have risen significantly over the past three years. Rotorua police have now admitted emergency housing has increased the demand in their resources and say staffing had not been increased during this time.
21/07/2022 Government promises new houses as part of Infrastructure Acceleration Fund. The Bay of Plenty is expected to reap the greatest rewards from the funding, with more than 5,000 homes and $123M in funding.
22/07/2022 Rotorua reserves housing proposal: Additional hearing dates added as submissions rise. 639 submissions with 160 submitters wishing to be heard.
24/07/2022 Sunday Star Times article ‘Two sides to the coin in housing the homeless ‘ A motelier says emergency housing is like running a prisoncome-mental health-ward and it is not the get-rich-quick scheme’ claimed by National MP Chris Bishop. Instead of dispensing hospitality they have become stand-in social workers and counsellors for the dispossessed, the drug-addicted and the mentally ill.
25/07/2022 Council hears overwhelming opposition on first day of the Reserves Revocation hearings.
The first two days of the submissions were met with lots of “points of order” being raised and were interrupted under either “offensive” or “relevance”.
27/07/2022 Day 2 of Reserves housing proposal – Penthouse to Craphouse – Reserves proposal hearings heat up. Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says she found some submissions ‘offensive’.
27/07/2022 Father who beat 5 year old son to death in Rotorua emergency housing loses fight to get jail term reduced.
28/07/2022 Former Mayor Grahame Hall delivered a fiery submission to the Council over its controversial reserves revocation proposal, saying its “outrageous”.
1/08/2022 Rotorua reserves proposal hearings – Restore Rotorua Chairman Trevor Newbrook says “extremely rude” to be interrupted.
Our parks are not for sale. Rotorua reserves proposal hearings conclude.
5/08/2022 3656 submissions were received from people over the 12 resource consent applications to allow motels to be contracted to the government for up to five years. 80% were opposed.
5/08/2022 Restore Rotorua – Locals had enough of emergency housing. Restore Rotorua Chairman Trevor Newbrook interviewed on Newstalk ZB radio show by Kerre Woodham.
10/08/2022 Rotorua MP Todd McClay calls for deferral of a controversial proposal to sell 10 reserve sites for housing until after the October local election.
11/08/2022 Rotorua reserves proposal – Seven reserve sites move toward revocation.
11/08/2022 Another Fenton Street motel seeks emergency housing approval for five years. Government adds Emerald Spa to the list of motels it wants to contract for emergency housing for the next five years – taking the total to 13.
12/08/2022 ‘Scary & damning’ pre-election report paints grim picture of deprivation, crime and housing crisis.
13/08/2022 Revamped motel for homeless families opens on Fenton Street. Up to 70 people will move into new transitional housing accommodation in the coming weeks at the site that was formerly the Boulevard Motel. The new “village” is renamed 2six5 on Fenton.
14/08/2022 Council advertises a new six-figure emergency housing management role.
24/08/2022 ‘Peaceful Protest’ planned for outside Council on Council selling reserves. ‘Our green spaces are not theirs to sell’. Protest organiser Don Paterson told the Rotorua Daily Post the action was a last ditch attempt to be seen and heard by the Council and to communicate the depth of feeling about the proposal.
25/08/2022 Outgoing Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick uses casting vote to approve a proposal to reclassify seven reserve sites, so they can be sold and developed for housing.
Housing Minister Megan Woods in Rotorua to view six new homes on the corner of Malfroy Road and Ranolf Streets that will go to families in Rotorua’s emergency housing motels. Confirms she isn’t committing to a policy change discussed in April over who can get the houses. The new homes were unveiled to help the region’s public housing crisis.
31/08/2022 A Daily Post article reveals Rotorua Lakes Council issued Four Canoes Hotel with a Dangerous Building Notice and a Notice to Fix 8th August 2022.
1/09/2022 McDonalds on Fenton Street employs security guards after issues with unruly people believed to be the homeless.
2/09/2022 Rotorua Lakes Council has spent almost $74,000 on its controversial reserves proposal, which narrowly passed Council approved last Thursday, with a casting vote by Mayor Steve Chadwick.
4/09/2022 Sunday TV programme airs. Rotorua’s emergency housing motels were supposed to be a safe haven for our most vulnerable, but that is far from reality. Tonight, we go undercover on the city’s ‘Golden Mile’ and confront a government-funded provider facing a raft of of serious allegations. (Visions of a Helping Hand)
5/09/2022 National’s housing spokesperson Chris Bishop has blasted the government over its handling of Rotorua’s homeless motels, saying the “time for excuses from Labour is over”. TVNZ Sunday programme revealed appalling scenes of intimidation, violence, misery, and crime in emergency housing in Rotorua. Prime Minister in complete denial of housing failure. Adern came into power promising to fix NZ’s housing crisis. “Five years on, rents are up $140 per week, the waitlist for a state house has increased by over 20,000 people, 8,000 families live in motels nationwide, while the number of people living in cars has quadrupled.”
6/09/2022 Newstalk ZB Heather du Pleiss-Allan: After watching the Sunday programme on emergency housing disaster in Rotorua, I’m convinced Rotorua will not recover from this.
6/09/2022 Rotorua emergency housing ‘feasting on dysfunction’. Te Pati Maori co-leader Rawiri Waititi says. Emergency housing system in Rotorua using people as a commodity.
6/09/2022 Bryce Edwards: Labour’s motel housing shame. The scandal of $1.2 billion emergency housing programme has become most visible in Rotorua. The staggering $1M spent each day on emergency housing has been a social disaster.
7/09/2022 Ministry ‘satisfied’ with Rotorua homeless charity but wider inquiry grows. Audits of Visions of a Helping Hand have raised no issues. Ministry of Housing & Urban Development says, its satisfied the group is delivering on its contract.
7/09/2022 National party’s Chris Bishop urges Auditor-General to probe Rotorua emergency housing.
7/09/2022 Human Rights Commission inquires into Rotorua emergency housing. Wants to speak to those living in emergency housing and transitional housing to form part of their housing inquiry.
7/09/2022 Mayor candidate Ben Sandford claims ex-prisoners recently released, are relocated to Rotorua emergency housing motels.
9/09/2022 Rotorua homeless charity hits back at Sunday TV programme. A social media post claims the show “significantly misrepresented the contracted emergency housing services that are provided in Rotorua by all providers. Visions contract with Tiger Security requires all guards to be licenced and vetted. The post came in the wake of allegations a security guard was a Black Power gang member and that they’d thrown women out of their motels, and employed unlicensed security guards.
11/09/2022 Q & A with Jack Tame – Housing Minister Megan Woods responds to emergency housing furore.
14/09/2022 Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick posits ‘end to emergency housing’ in Rotorua after ministerial meet.
16/09/2022 RotoruaNZ dashboard launched to help visitors avoid mixed use motels. Of 153 accommodation providers listed in the RotoruaNZ website 88 are operating as tourist accommodation, 61 are Emergency Housing of which 15 are mixed use and 4 are closed.
17/09/2022 A “distressing” report has revealed crime and police callouts around the emergency housing in Rotorua have risen significantly over the past three years. Rotorua police have now admitted emergency housing has increased the demand for their resources and say staffing had not been increased during this time. The Police intelligence report was obtained under the Official Information Act by retired BOP Police Cammander Superintendent Gary Smith.
19/09/2022 ‘We need to restore the mana of our city’ Te Arawa takes emergency stand and calls for end of emergency housing crisis in Rotorua.
20/09/2022 Rotorua tourism operators want government fix for brand damages and has not done enough to fix the “mess” it created.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson who said the government was taking concerns about emergency housing in Rotorua Motels “very, very seriously”. “Businesses in Rotorua have received significant amounts of money and support from us. Rotorua is still a busy tourism town”.
23/09/2022 Uncertainty over how many are on home detention, bail in MSD motels. Corrections unable to say how many or where convicted criminals are serving home detention, parole and community detention sentences in emergency accommodation.
27/09/2022 Black Power gang member avoids jail for her role in kidnapping plot – sentenced to home detention in Rotorua emergency housing accommodation.
28/09/2022 More people living in emergency housing for longer, some for up to 2 years.
1/10/2022 Ministry of Housing & Urban Development moves 28 homeless from controversial Four Canoes Hotel on Fenton Street, to other housing.
1/10/2022 An ‘unbelievably persistent’ shoplifter addicted to synthetic cannabis who lived in emergency housing hit stores sometimes 3 times a day leaving with trolley-loads and bags full of goods at hundreds of dollars. Tamati Taoho was jailed for 11 months, mainly for shoplifting at shops in the Rotorua Central Mall area.
10/10/2022 Kainga Ora spends $60M in less than 3 years to get more Rotorua houses. A vacant piece of land on Devon Street will soon see six two-storey new public homes. Part of the spend included Boulevard Motel for $8.1M.
11/10/2022 MSD Minister Carmel Sepuloni defends government after Rotorua’s new Mayor hits out at city’s ‘MSD strip’. Rotorua’s new Mayor is calling for action on what used to be the city’s golden mile of tourist motels. Rotorua makes up 1.5% of the population it now has 10% of the emergency housing population.
17/10/2022 The Independent Commissioner Hearing starts, regarding resource consent of 13 motels for contracted emergency housing for five years.
21/10/2022 During the hearing, a Fenton St hotel revealed they had spent $129,000 on a fence to protect guests, staff and their vehicles.
22/10/2022 Rotorua tourism report: Negative perceptions blamed for $17M loss in tourism spending in three months. RotoruaNZ said if current trends persisted, Rotorua could lose $92M of visitor spending over 12 months. Visitors were “conflating crime alongside social issues such as homelessness and emergency housing”.
22/10/2022 Rotorua is a “ghost town” due to emergency housing crisis. A hearing before three independent commissioners, started on Monday, hearing submissions . Several residents and business owners broke into tears when they spoke about the situation. People had to move out of their homes because of threats, families have been torn apart. Street violence and intimidation had become common. Gangs dealing drugs – you name it.
27/10/2022 Statistics NZ data released with Rotorua experiencing a population loss of 300 between 30th June 2020 to 30 June 2022.
31/10/2022 Alpin motel owner unaware her motel was contracted emergency housing with 100 homeless living at her motel. Greet van Der Helm has begged commissioners to decline resource consent for her motel and 12 others.
1/11/2022 Final day of Independent Commissioner Hearing. Out of town homeless overwhelming health services GP tells Rotorua hearing.
5/11/2022 Asphalt carpark removed from Kainga Ora housing development on corner of Ranolf St & Malfroy Rd. Residents of the six occupied houses were forced to park their vehicles in the street. A drunk driver crashes into one of the resident’s cars causing extensive damage.
6/11/2022 Spiralling poverty crisis: Nearly $70M spent on Rotorua’s emergency housing over almost 5 years and the average stay in motels has stretched to 35 weeks new figures reveal.
7/11/2022 Rotorua emergency housing ads targeted Facebook users out of town. A document shared by RotoruaNZ with Rotorua Lakes Council shows examples of emergency motel advertisements on Facebook directly targeted at people in Tauranga and Whakatane.
7/11/2022 Save Glenholme Group starts up to stop Kainga Ora’s Devon Street development.
9/11/2022 Who’s to blame for Rotorua emergency housing crisis? Frustration is growing about the state of emergency housing in the city.
10/11/2022 Government says it ‘may have’ paid for relocation to emergency motels. It says it is possible it has paid out-of-town people to move to Rotorua for emergency housing but says it does not “actively relocate” people. Rotorua MP Todd McClay says the phrasing is “spin”.
10/11/2022 Council reverses decision to revoke reserve status of seven Rotorua sites for development. Scrapped by a unanimous vote.
12/11/2022 Mayor calls for more police to deal with emergency housing crime.
12/11/2022 The government has pledged $19.8M towards a new public and affordable housing development on Maori owned land in Rotorua. Its located on 16 hectares of Maori titled land owned by Ngati Whakaue Tribal lands on Wharenui Road, close to Wharenui Rise, called Manawa Gardens.
17/11/2022 Corrections says Wera Aotearoa Charitable Trust failed to delcare conflict of interest. A Rotorua social services provider that looks after the homeless failed to correctly declare a prisoner was staying at a rental property owned by its top management.
19/11/2022 Experts pitch solutions for housing crisis.
20/11/2022 Longest stay in emergency housing stretches over 3 years, with more than 1000 staying over a year. Its comes as a Human Rights Commissioner prepares to release his findings of a massive housing enquiry.
23/11/2022 Rotorua’s Mayor has expressed concern over a Kainga Ora submission on a proposed district plan change which could lead to six storey buildings being zoned outside of the inner city. Plan change 9 was notified end of August and was open for submissions until October 14, triggered by Tier 1 Medium Density.
23/11/2022 No evictions of unruly tenants by Kainga Ora after receiving close to 6,500 complaints nationwide. Kainga Ora has yet to cancel any tenancies or evict a single tenant since it was instructed to more vigourously employ the law against unruly tenants.
In February 2022, the government gave Kainga Ora the green light to deal with disruptive tenants, using measures including a ‘three strikes’ complaints scheme laid out in the Residential Tenancies Act.
24/11/2022 Rotorua Lakes Council considered an agreement to end widespread use of emergency housing in motels in the city. Due to ongoing confidential negotiations with the government, Council proposes to discuss the “Housing Accord” in a public excluded section of Thursday’s council meeting.
24/11/2022 Frustration over the delay in defining emergency housing. Council have been waiting for MBIE to provide work on a definition of emergency housing which would help the Council enforce its regulations.The Building Act was ambiguous about the definition of emergency housing. Council applied for the determination in late January 2022 and had expected its delivery by May, but it had not been forthcoming from MBIE.
28/11/2022 The Glenholme community is exhausted. Strong words erupt at public meeting. More than 400 pack Bowling Club for public meeting with Kainga Ora. A Glenholme resident backed by 400 locals calls for Kainga Ora to leave the suburb alone and not allow more social housing in the area. Save Glenholme Group expressed concern to Kainga Ora BOP Regional Director Darren Toy about a planned development on a vacant section of land at 54 Devon Street.
9/12/2022 Housing Accord signed. The Rotorua Housing Accord is a commitment between Government, Rotorua Lakes Council and Te Arawa iwi to work together to build a better housing and urban future for Rotorua. The main focus is to reduce the use of Emergency Housing in Rotorua to near zero as soon as possible.
9/12/2022 Call for urgent stocktake of gang members in emergency motels by Rotorua MP Todd McClay. Government won’t report how many gang members in emergency motels. Minister of Police Chris Hipkins replied police did not hold that data as it would require MSD to regularly update police.
13/12/2022 Emergency Housing changes announced, including minimum standards, housing support and tackling bad tenants.
13/12/2022 Police Minister Chris Hipkins said that Rotorua Police force had increased by 20 since the homeless crisis started. However, Rotorua’s numbers have risen by just four staff members since an influx of homeless people living in the city’s motels.
13/12/2022 Shoplifter in emergency housing stole $10K worth of stolen items – but she won’t have to pay it back.
14/12/2022 Government refuses to ‘put timeframe’ on when it stops using motels as emergency housing. MSD Minister Carmel Sepuloni said on 1st May 2021 that she hoped to make good progress before 2023.
14/12/2022 ‘Small win’ for Glenholme residents over housing plans at 54 Devon Street. Instead of six two storey houses, three 2 bedroom single storey houses will be built.
15/12/2022 Commissioners release decision on 13 contracted emergency housing motels. “Granted 13 Rotorua motels resource consent to operate emergency housing for two years with a range of conditions”.
15/12/2022 ‘Serious and ongoing breaches of human rights in emergency housing’. A Human Rights Commission review prompted Rotorua MP Todd McClay to describe the government as Rotorua’s “worst slumlord”. The report said that emergency housing was often not safe, secure, clean, dry, or in good repair and failed decency standards. The government’s exclusion of emergency housing from the Residential Tenancies Act protections was a “serious and ongoing breach” and people were being evicted into homelessness by accommodation providers not subject to accountability that honoured the Treaty of Waitangi.
15/12/2022 No more Kainga Ora developments. Saving Glenholme Board member Sarah Cameron presents petition to Council for end to Kainga Ora Housing.
17/12/2022 204 fewer homeless households in Rotorua motels. 20 less motels that no longer do emergency housing. 27 new public houses since March 2022. However on RotoruaNZ website 56 motels are still listed as emergency housing providers.
15 motels were contracted to the government and 9 motels were mixed use.
17/12/2022 A link in Kelly Mahika’s Daily Post article, “let’s make housing accord worthwhile piece of paper” is to the MSD Dashboard. As at November 2022, 42 motels were used as temporary housing, 408 households, 840 people with 468 Adults & 372 Children.
17/12/2022 Rental investigation: Tenants offered other accommodation after an investigation began into living conditions at the property. Premises do not have consent for its current use, says MBIE.
21/12/2022 Official Information Request to Ministry of Social Development to supply a list of emergency housing providers in Rotorua as at 30th November 2022. Also a request to update Table 1 and Table 2 that were supplied in November 2021 to 30th November 2022.
In updating the Homeless Timeline there was a difference between two dashboards. RotoruaNZ dashboard listed 56 emergency housing accommodation providers as opposed to MSD Dashboard with 42 motels supplying Emergency Housing, Contracted Emergency Housing, Covid-19 response motels and Transitional Housing motels.
29/12/2022 Emergency Housing is out and visitor accommodation is in. A Fenton St motel “annihilated” after hosting emergency housing clients has now been renovated by its new owner to host visitors. Ashleigh Court, on the corner of Wylie and Fenton Sts, is now owned by a Hawke’s Bay family, spending $500K plus on renovating the motel.
31/12/2022 Mongrel Mob gang member allegedly attacked with weapons at Rotorua government-contracted Union Victoria emergency motel.
The government confirmed via written parliamentary questions submitted by Rotorua MP Todd McClay the incident happened on 24th November 2022 and involved up to 16 people, one of whom was a patched gang member. The Rotorua Daily Post weekend asked Minister of Housing Megan Woods how gang members were able to stay in contracted emergency housing motels, but a spokeswoman from her office said the question could be answered by the Ministry and contracted provider. Visions of a Helping Hand Charitable Trust is the
Contracted service provider that manages the motel.
McClay said the Government putting gang members and prospects in emergency housing motels and making the taxpayer pay was a “disgrace”