'We have to keep going' - Te Puea Marae helps 480 people into homes in last four years

South Auckland's Te Puea Marae has now helped 480 people into homes since it first opened its doors to those struggling during the  winter of 2016.

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Chairman Hurimoana Dennis says they're going to keep doing what they're doing. Source: Breakfast

While they initially felt overwhelmed by the demand, marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis says they're not planning on pulling the brakes anytime soon.

"We have to keep going because it's not getting better," he told TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning.

They've also hit another milestone recently, helping a mum into home ownership for the first time.

"That's a big goal for us. She first came to us, her and her three sons were sleeping in a van, now they've gone to home ownership. What about that?" Mr Dennis says.

"On the flipside of that though, we're getting some whānau where we have put into homes, want to get out because it's not safe. 

"So you can take 10 steps forward and then 10 steps back, but you've just got to keep going."

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Jacinda Ardern and Phil Twyford announced the package at the Te Puea Marae today. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Dennis says helping people and families into their new housing is an "outstanding" feeling, but also a "huge humility".

"And we've made good friends too. We get invited to weddings, we get invited into homes, and I think that's important," he says.

"Even after we've put them into homes, two years later, we're still with them."

Since starting up in winter 2016, support has grown. As well as gaining Government funding, some private businesses are providing food and jobs as support.

Mr Dennis says it was a challenge at the start, but "we got good at it".

Since then, he says things haven't really changed much on their end.

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Mona Kingi, who has worked at Mangere's Te Puea Marae for decades, was shocked by some of the cases the marae housed last winter. Source: 1 NEWS

"The model that we have at the marae is very Māori, from the front door to the back and into the backyard. Everything is about being Māori," he says.

"And when you're on a marae that carries such a big name like Te Puea, you have to do the job."

Despite the challenges, Mr Dennis says they're going to keep doing what they're doing, and help more vulnerable people into a better place.