Happy New Year! I'm sure many of us had a wonderful time over the festive break.
Tauranga is certainly a beautiful place to experience the idyllic New Zealand summer of sun, surf and sand.
Firstly I want to acknowledge the wonderful and amazing residents of this beautiful city who have supported others in need over the past year.
Through donations of food, money, clothing, blankets, time and expertise, the people of Tauranga have shown time and time again that this beautiful city has a very strong social heart.
I am so proud to live in a place where we care for others. When we help one another, we build a stronger community. Thank you all for your kindness and your compassion. You have given hope and joy to many people.
Sadly the Christmas period was not a happy time for everyone in our city.
Over the break I was contacted by a large number of people who found themselves in difficult situations. These included those who were still homeless after many months of trying to find long term rentals, only to fall short time and again. One Mum with five children was living in a tent on Christmas Day before being able to get access to a small, one bedroom motel unit.
Homelessness is not an easy problem to fix, but the current government will not bury our heads in the sand, nor will we be deterred by detractors.
As our Housing Minister Phil Twyford says: “This problem can be solved.”