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HomeNew ZealandExtension to emergency housing in motels irks some Rotorua residents

Extension to emergency housing in motels irks some Rotorua residents

Rotorua [single use only]

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The city of Rotorua.
Photo: Andrew Warner / Rotorua Daily Post

Thirteen motels in Rotorua have been allowed to continue to operate as contracted emergency accommodation, following a decision made by independent commissioners.

Commissioners decided the motels can provide emergency housing under contracts with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for another two years, rather than the five years sought by the ministry.

The decision comes more than a month after a hearing in Rotorua where residents gave [

emotional statements opposing the ministry’s resource consent applications.]

The majority of the 3841 submissions were in opposition and wanted all 13 consents to be declined.

Meanwhile, a list of conditions have been placed on the the ministry and the housing providers.

Among those are requirements for site management, noise control, and other new rules such as the banning of dogs.

The ministry has also been asked to set up a a community liaison group for engagement with providers and the community.

Another party the consent holders have been asked to meet with on a six-monthly basis is the Whakarewarewa Village and TePuia.

Earlier, some submissions spoke of concerns about the impact of the three motels close to the village, including trespassing, vandalism, drug use, and the disrespect of kaumatua and residents.

However despite these measures, some residents were unhappy with the outcome.

Rolly Rolston, who has lived for 22 years near Fenton Street, moved to Papamoa earlier this year after what he described as ongoing abuse from people who stayed in emergency housing.

” used to be able to walk to the supermarket and the mall and feel quite safe and take my grandchildren with me, [it] got to the stage that because of abuse, I just wouldn’t go anywhere unless I was driving,” he said.

Rolston said he believed the residents’ feedback had been ignored by the commissioners.

“I just think they haven’t listened to the people, once again they’ve gone purely with what the law says, or try to meet a balance of two years or five years, whatever it is, it’s too long,” he said.

Rolston said he considered the new conditions as a “band-aid solution” which would not have an impact on safety concerns.

The president of Restore Rotorua Trevor Newbrook said he was disappointed with the approvals of all 13 resource consents but glad that the consent period has been reduced.

Newbrook said the new council has done a better job of engaging with the community on the issue.

“We seem to be getting a little more support from the Rotorua Lakes Council, we had a change of mayor here, and a new council that seem a bit more determined to get the emergency housing thing cleaned up,” he said.

Mayor pleased with shorter duration

Meanwhile, Rotorua Mayor Tania Tapsell welcomed the commissioners’ decision and said there was an end in sight for eliminating emergency housing in Rotorua.

“I was really pleased to learn that it would only be for two years, not the five years that’s requested, reason being is it sets the target to eliminate the need for emergency housing in Rotorua by the end of 2024,” she said.

Rotorua mayor Tania Tapsell is relieved at the restricted timeframe.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

As part of the conditions for the consents, the ministry has also been asked to submit an exit plan to the Hamilton and Lakes Council for each motel, six months prior to to expiry of the consents, including relocation plans for the residents.

Tapsell said ther has been a reduction of 20 motels used as emergency housing in Rotorua, as compared to this time last year.

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