A leading advocate for the homeless is challenging iwi leadership to offer solutions to the problem.

Hurimoana Dennis aired his views at a conference that has the lofty aim of eradicating homelessness in our country.

“E whai ake mātou te whakaaro a te whaea Te Puea māmā noa iho mō mātou mō te marae nei heoi anō he pai ake.”

The New Zealand Coalition to End Homelessness met yesterday to address the issue of homelessness.

According to Te Puni Kōkiri, in Auckland alone, 70% of homeless people are Māori.

Dennis says that it’s unacceptable.

“That's just unacceptable. Look over the last three years we've put 269 whānau into homes, not just into homes but we're following through with them. We can't leave them. So our process for them is that the first phase is really if you like is maruiti. For us, it's a safe haven when they come. Then we move them into tīmatanga hōu, which is putting them into their homes, it's staying with them. And then the outcome for us, the piko is Whānau Ora. You know, ka rere te manu.”

Marty Rogers, a descendant of Te Rarawa fell homeless in Australia in 2012.

“I had just become a widow. I had teenage children who were in college. And as a result of a change in employment, I found myself homeless with my children and we were living and sleeping in our car.”

Now she's currently the Manager of Regional Development for Tāmaki Makaurau at Te Puni Kōkiri and says from her own experience she is now determined to tackle this issue.

“How do we make sure we back up the narrative so that the GOVT continue to place homelessness as a priority and second how can we collectively contribute to some solutions for change.”

And she has a reminder for all.

“Not everyone who is homeless has a label, not everyone who is homeless is unemployed, not everyone who is homeless has a mental illness and we need to remember that.”

Dennis has a challenge to the Iwi Leaders Forum.

“Kei whea rātou? Waikato-Tainui and Ngāti Whātua were the only iwi that came to support us when we were doing our mahi and still do but there’s so much more out there and we can’t see any one vision from a Māori perspective because most of the whānau who come are Māori.”

The conference ended yesterday afternoon and they want the Iwi Leaders Forum to hear their concerns in the hope they follow through in taking up the challenge.