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Te Puea Marae transforms approach to transitional housing

Te Puea Marae in Mangere is tranforming the approach to transitional housing support through its unique marae based initiative Manaaki Tangata E Rua.

15 June 2022

Since opening its doors to the homeless in 2016 the dedicated team at Te Puea have continued demonstrating and advocating for marae led, kaupapa Māori support initiatives for vulnerable whānau.

Lead social worker Whitiao Paul says the Manaaki Tangata E Rua transitional housing programme is based on the legacy of Te Puea Herangi and is the first of its kind in this space.

“The majority of whānau who have engaged with this programme have achieved mana motuhake (self sustainability) and 102 have been housed and we are building 10 units for transitional housing on our marae,”says Whitiao.

Alongside research partners Ngā Wai A Te Tūī Māori and Indigenous Research Centre, Te Puea have captured compelling evidence highlighting their wraparound approach to manaakitanga which provides posit8ive and uplofting experiences for vulnerable whānau.

Ngā Wai A Te Tūī Director, Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan says, “We’ve been really fortunate to build this relationship with Te Puea Memorial Marae. The work they have done in serving our whānau and addressing homelessness has seen compelling shifts in physical and spiritual wellbeing. This work has emphasised pivotal ways of thinking about marae and their ability to support communities in this space.”

Manaaki Tangata E Rua was recently highlighted at the 6th International Indigenous Voices Symposium in Social Work as an extremely successful transformative model to supporting communities in need.

New Zealand currently has the third highest rate of homelessness in the OECD with the majority of those impacted of Māori decent.

Whitiao says mainstream support services are failing Māori and don’t reflect or understand how to support whānau effectively.

“Our kaupapa anchors whānau in our marae tikanga and kawa which supports their growth and healing this approach shifts them from being vulnerable to expressing and enacting their rangatiratanga and mana motuhake.’

Feedback captured by Manaaki Tangata E Rua researchers clearly identified the value of an approach based on manaakitanga and aroha. It also captured the positive impact of this approach on diverse cultures.

A Pākeha mother of three who sought shelter with Te Puea said;

“At first it was really scary because I didn’t know what to expect and Ive never been in that situation. As soon as we got to Te Puea Marae and we got the cabin we had, it was just like, I could breathe! We had somewhere that we could call home, instead of living out of a car.”

A Tuvalu father of 3 says the support provided by Te Puea was ongoing and truly appreciated;.

“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, our family now.”

A Māori mother says she found happiness and people willing to listen to her at Te Puea; 

“Te Puea Marae has always been there for me. They had a routine, and at 8.30 pm the kids had to be in bed at 8:30 that’s what the rules were there. My kids have learnt a lot of things there. They’ve learned to be nice to eachother and help out with things.” 

Whitiao says all whānau entering their programme are supported through a series of 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 Begginnings ensures support is provided without judgement
Stage 3: Whānau Ora – Connection with whānau never ends 
Stage 4: Mana Motuhake – Whānau Self Determination

The aroha provided by the whānau at Te Puea Marae builds enduring relationships that work to maintain connection, despite the challenges encountered.

Often whānau who have achieve mana motuhake return to the marae to contribute to the kaupapa and help guide others through the process.

One Māori mother says her experience with Te Puea changed her life and she now runs a community Mums and Bubs support group.

“We just love helping them come out of the place where I once was. It’s a lot of work,I don’t know how Whaea Whitiao does it. I just speak wisdom into their life and guide them into the steps that I’ve made myself and you kind of see if they’re willing or not …still connecting with them though seeing how they are. Sending them kai parcels or something because I already know how that feels from Te Puea Marae its just so amazing.”

The whānau at Te Puea hope the models developed through this work will support iwi and hapū around the country wanting to provide the same support to their communities.


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