Government spends over $8 million on four motels across NZ to ease homeless crisis

Four motels have been bought by the Government to temporarily house the homeless – and it’s looking at buying two more.

National has been putting people up in motels – and even buying some – as it struggles with the number of people living on the streets, in cars and in garages.

Nearly $8.5 million has been spent buying the four motels, one each in Auckland, Hastings, Gisborne and Napier.

Labour says the cost of those motels is double the latest available valuation, although the Government has disputed that.

Opposition MP Carmel Sepuloni says hundreds of state houses have been sold in those areas – and asked Social Housing Minister Amy Adams why that is the case in Parliament today.

“The needs of transitional housing developments are quite different,” Ms Adams said.

$34 million is being spent on emergency accommodation, providing bedrooms for people for up to three months at a time.

The Government also revealed today it planned to spend $36 million over the next four years insulating over 10,000 Housing New Zealand homes.

The motels were purchased in Auckland, Gisborne, Hastings and Napier. Source: 1 NEWS



Homicide investigation launched after man fatally stabbed in Northland's Moerewa

A homicide investigation has been launched following the fatal stabbing in the Northland town of Moerewa last night.

Emergency services were called to an address at 8.45pm.

Police say a 57-year-old man died at the scene.

A woman is currently assisting Police with inquiries.

Police say the pair are known to each other and no one else is being sought over the incident.

A post mortem examination will be carried out tomorrow.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS

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Kiwi artist's carving made from bone of stranded whale in Scotland on display in Dunedin

When a stranded whale dies on the shores in New Zealand, it is likely artist Chris Charteris will get a call.

The artist uses whale bone as part of his traditional Māori carving.

One of his latest carvings uses bone that travelled around the world to reach New Zealand.

It's the focus of an application to the Department of Conservation to hold, import and export the carved sperm whale jaw bone to Australia for its new owner.

The bone was originally harvested from a dead sperm whale that was stranded on a beach in Scotland in 1977.

Accomplished Māori carver Major H Woods acquired it later that year from the British Museum before he exported it to New Zealand in 1994.

Mr Woods sent a crate with the bone in it to New Zealand, intending to return to his country.

However, he passed away before he could travel back to carve with it.

Mr Charteris was asked whether he was interested in buying the bone from Mr Woods' estate in 1998 as he was supplying Auckland Museum with carvings.

Two decades later, the finished carved bone sculpture was exhibited at Milford Galleries Dunedin.

Only 37.2 centimetres in height, it's a small, but valuable piece.

The jaw bone was particularly prized as the most solid part of the skeleton, he said.

"I'd consider all of the skeleton remains of the whale are equally precious to me."

Mr Charteris has been working with whale bone since the 1980s.

It's a controversial material to be working with, even though the bone is collected from dead beached whales.

He described a guilt people still appeared to feel about the slaughtering of whales to "light the lamps of London".

"I think we still have a residue of guilt.

"I feel that if I have the opportunity to work with that material then it's my job to honour and to do the best that I can with it.

"It is a part of my heritage to be involved in using whale bone, there's quite a strong connection to the material and to the whales."

Technology made bone carving a lot simpler and quicker, he said.

"It has made what would have been a number of years ago a very labour intensive process, a lot more efficient."

Submissions close for the permit to export the carved jaw bone on 20 September.

 Image courtesy of Milford Galleries Dunedin. Glenn Frei.
Image courtesy of Milford Galleries Dunedin. Glenn Frei. Source: Image courtesy of Milford Galleries Dunedin. Glenn Frei.

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Work starts for Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangārei

Work's begun in earnest this week on Whangārei's Hundertwasser Art Centre.

Contractors have finished demolishing the old Harbour Board building on the site and started driving the piles.

A spokesman for the $28 million project, Greg Hayes, said the foundations would be supporting the largest earth-roof in the southern hemisphere.

Mr Hayes said 75 steel tubes will be driven 33 metres into the ground, then augured out and filled with steel and concrete to lock into the bedrock.

The job should take about a month, he said.

Mr Hayes said neighbours of the Hundertwasser project were braced for some serious thumping as the piles went in but there had been a lot less vibration than expected.

By Lois Williams

rnz.co.nz

Contractors have to drive 75 steel tubes 33 metres into the ground.
Contractors have to drive 75 steel tubes 33 metres into the ground. Source: rnz.co.nz


Weekend's most read: Pregnant women refusing prenatal care after children taken by social services

This story was first published on Sunday September 16.

More than 6000 children are in the care of Oranga Tamaraki – a 22 per cent increase from six years ago. Source: 1 NEWS

Health professionals say women whose children have been taken by social services are refusing to seek prenatal care when they fall pregnant for fear of having their newborns taken, too.

One Kaitaia couple, Mary and Warren, had their first child taken into care by social services because of domestic violence and mental health problems.

Mary believes social services' decision to remove their child from their care was fair at the time, but she claims they "also said that I'd be able to get him back and that I'd get a house in six months".

When Mary became pregnant for a second time, it was six months before she sought prenatal care.

Mary and Warren's fears were realised when their second child was taken from them at birth, with Oranga Tamariki saying their baby was at risk.

"I just cried and wouldn't give her to them. The nurse actually had to take her off me," she said.

The couple's children are among more than 6000 New Zealand kids under the care of Oranga Tamariki this year – a 22 per cent increase on the number of children in care six years ago.

The agency says it only takes such drastic action when there are concerns of a serious nature, and only when all other options have been explored.

However, Northland midwife Colleen Brown is concerned the move is putting pregnant mothers off seeking help.

"There is no way, unless you are gonna go bush and have your pepe (baby), that you are gonna keep that pepe," Ms Brown said.

1 NEWS has spoken to several pregnant mothers who are considered at risk.

Some are expecting mothers who would like help with their drug and alcohol abuse but have not reached out for help out of fear of losing their children. Some have children who have already been removed from their care.

But Oranga Tamariki says those who do not seek help are putting their babies at further risk.

Deanne 'Dee' McManus-Emery, the regional manager for Oranga Tamariki South Auckland, says, "We are hearing stories from our families that we do know, but we're also hearing it from our community organisations, colleagues and also our health providers".

"What we're trying to do is work in partnership with those providers, ensuring that there is a jointed approach to ensure the right support services are wrapped around them," Ms McManus-Emery explained.

"We certainly would want families to be accessing their prenatal care because that gives children the best start in life."

Ms Brown is urging mothers with fears of losing their child "to take ownership of it" and get the help they need.

"They need to come forward because there is help available for them," she said.

Mary and Warren visit their children twice a week and are working with social agencies to get them back permanently.

"I'd like our kids back. I’d like to be given a chance," Warren said.