Te Puea Marae leads transformational approach to transitional housing

The Manaaki Tāngata Programme Kaimahi.

Te Puea Marae is transforming the lives of whānau experiencing homelessness with a tikanga Māori based approach to transitional housing.

Manaaki Tangata E Rua, funded by Building Better Homes, Towns, and Cities (BBHTC), is New Zealand’s first marae based transitional housing programme which has secured permanent homes for more than 100 families.

Te Puea Marae lead social worker Whitiao Paul says people supported through the programme become a part of the whanau at their marae which helps creates an enduring connection.

“When they move to their new homes our relationship with them doesn’t end, we stay by their sides to help make sure they have the right support to maintain mana motuhake (self-sustainability).”

An additional 10 units are being built at the marae to increase support capacity as the number of whānau turning to Te Puea continues to grow.

A partnership forged with Ngā Wai A Te Tūī Māori and Indigenous Research Centre and dedicated funding from BBHTC has helped the marae capture vital data demonstrating the impact of its approach.

Ngā Wai A Te Tūī Director Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan says the evidence highlights pivotal ways of thinking about marae and their ability to support communities.

“The contribution our marae provide in serving our whānau and addressing homelessness has seen compelling shifts in their physical and spiritual wellbeing.”

Thousands of families have spent extended periods of time in hotels and motels while in transitional housing and the environments can often be unhealthy and unsafe.

One South Auckland mother told researchers her experience with Te Puea helped her realise ‘happiness’ at an extremely difficult time in her life.

“Telling Whitiao my story about what was happening, she listened to me. Man, I love her for that. Te Puea has always been there for me. They had a routine, so at 8.30pm the kids had to be in bed, that’s what the rules were there. My kids have learnt a lot of things there. They’ve learned to be nice to each other and help out with things.”

Since opening its doors to the homeless in 2016, Te Puea Marae has continued to advocate for transformative change in the housing sector.

Families from diverse cultures have experienced benefits and shared their insights with researchers.

A Pākeha mother of three who had been living in her car said, “at first it was really scary because I didn’t know what to expect and I’ve never been in that situation. As soon we got the cabin we had, it was just like, I could breathe! We had somewhere that we could call home.”

A Tuvalu father of three said even after leaving the marae the support and connection stays strong.

“The marae supported us to get a home and here we have a new home. The kids are happy they have their own room now in our home. Te Puea Marae still supports us with food and to my wife and my daughter driving lessons, so they still support our family now.”

The model championed by Manaaki Tangata E Rua was highlighted earlier this year as a prime example of ‘rangatiratanga’ at the 6th International Indigenous Voices Symposium in Social Work.

Manaaki Tangata E Rua guides whānau through a series of healing stages embedded in te ao Māori.

  • Stage 1: Maruiti – Safe Haven provides a safe space for whānau to be together
  • Stage 2: Timatanga Hou – New Beginnings providing support without judgement
  • Stage 3: Whānau Ora – Connection with whānau never ends
  • Stage 4: Mana Motuhake – Whānau Self Determination

The approach championed by Te Puea Marae is inspired by their tupuna Te Puea Herangi and maintains focus on aroha, manaakitanga, and quality of support, as opposed to quantity and deadlines.

Te Puea Marae hopes the model they’ve developed will influenceimprovement inpolicy and help other Marae, Iwi and Hapū establish similar programmes for their communities.

Manaaki Tangata E Rua is funded by BBHTC and is part of the UIKI Project.

More information

For more information about this and similar programmes, please see our Marae research page.

For all media enquiries, please contact Taiha Molyneux.

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Date posted: 10 July 2022