OPINION: Visit brings social housing to the fore

Damage to Kaikoura's buildings was a hot topic with visiting ministers Stuart Smith and Alfred Ngaro when they meet with ...
PIPPA BROWN/FAIRFAX NZ

Damage to Kaikoura's buildings was a hot topic with visiting ministers Stuart Smith and Alfred Ngaro when they meet with deputy chief fire officer Craig Guthrie and chief fire officer Craig Walker.

OPINION: Associate Minister of Housing Alfred Ngaro, joined me on a visit to Kaikōura last week. It came to our attention that a number of people who are still not able to live in their homes after the earthquake have not yet sought social housing assistance.

As winter approaches, I urge those who need assistance to apply now. They can make contact with the local Work and Income office or call the call centre. Assessments for housing can be done over the telephone.

There is help available, but social housing agencies cannot act if they are unaware of your situation.

Alfred Ngaro's visit to Kaikoura was a timely one, as it was extremely valuable to be able to discuss local social housing issues with him and Kaikoura residents.

We were able to identify what social housing issues we need to work on, which includes making sure people are signing up.

As part of Alfred's visit we attended a powhiri and breakfast at Takahanga Marae, where Alfred met some locals that can like him trace their whakapapa back Rarotonga. We also took the opportunity to meet with Maori Wardens at Whale Watch Kaikoura.

Alfred, who is MP for Te Atatu in West Auckland, holds a number of other portfolios which are relevant to the Kaikoura Electorate, including Minister for Pacific Peoples and Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

The initial earthquake response was of course handled largely by volunteers, including those at Takahanga Marae, which became a headquarters for tourists and locals alike in the immediate aftermath.

I was able to meet with some of those volunteers, including marae members, St John, the Kaikoura Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Kaikoura Op Shop and the Kaikoura Lions.

It was great to be able to acknowledge personally the incredible effort they all made to look after their community while they were dealing with their own issues and families as well.

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These visits with volunteers and members of the marae were very interesting and informative, and I thank everyone for taking the time to update me on what has been happening in Kaikoura - this is always an important and valuable part of my role.

Kaikoura residents can seek social housing assistance by visiting WINZ at Heartland Services on Beach Rd, or over the phone on 0800 559 009.

You can also contact my local electorate staff member Nadia Mackle on 021 915 150 to seek help and advice or make her aware of any issues regarding social housing in Kaikoura.

 - Stuff

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