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Homeless parents feared Government would take their premature baby

A homeless couple who have been sleeping rough with their premature newborn baby feared the Government would take away their baby if they asked for help.

Mereana is just 15 days old and has been living rough with her parents. Source: 1 NEWS

Yesterday, ONE News revealed 16-day-old Mereana was sleeping at Te Puea Marae, which has become a haven for the homeless.

However, her mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said she approached Housing New Zealand but did not inform the agency of baby Mereana, fearing she would be taken away by Child Youth and Family.

She said her family has been sleeping rough for the past 18 months, mostly in Whakatane.

"I want her to be able to grow to nourish to have somewhere to belong," Mereana's mum said.

"The car that we did have got impounded so we were just camping out in a tent in Whakatane but we'd get stopped by the police, we'd get moved on by the police saying 'this is a public place not a camping ground'."

Baby Mereana, born at six pounds, travelled to Auckland last weekend as her family desperately sought out accommodation.

"I would travel to the end of the earth to try and find some kind of answer, some kind of option for my family but it really is exhausting to come all the way to Te Puea to try and get help," her mum said.

Te Puea Marae has now reached capacity and Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said she doesn't want people living in a marae.

"I want them in homes with roofs over their heads that are permanent," she said.