Hundreds gather for Hikoi for homeless in south Auckland

The death of a homeless man in south Auckland has triggered hundreds of people to take to the streets, calling for support to deal with the area's homelessness issue.

Earlier this month, a rough sleeper was found dead on the doorstep of the Manurewa Methodist Church. Haami Thomas Manahi, 59, died as volunteers were preparing the weekly soup kitchen inside.

On Saturday afternoon, community leaders and locals gathered on the same doorstep for the Hikoi of Hope for the Homeless, urging Aucklanders to open their eyes to poverty within the community.

Some locals held placards to support their cause.
Some locals held placards to support their cause. Photo credit: Newshub.

Community organiser Debbie Munroe says it is devastating to have a man die in her area.

"I was in shock. I didn't even know he was here, which makes it harder for me. If we knew he was here, we would've given him the support."

Ms Munroe, who helps rough sleepers as a "full-time passion", is calling on local businesses and the Government to give homeless people of Auckland an "all night cafe" safe space.

"One thing about our homeless is they come and go all night - no point having a shelter and locking them up and saying you can't leave. So we thought a shelter where they can come in, have a shower, grab some clean clothes, have a kai, sit down, grab a beanbag and watch a movie."

Terry Clarke has been homeless for 11 years and often sleeps in Manuwera parks. He's working with WINZ to get in to emergency housing and says the homeless need more help than they get.

"Give them all the support they need and we should get through it, hopefully."

Terry Clarke has been homeless for more than a decade.
Terry Clarke has been homeless for more than a decade. Photo credit: Newshub.

Mr Clarke says while he's used to the freezing cold winter, it "takes a while to get used to".

"I've got about five blankets and three sleeping bags, so I snuggle up warm. All the homeless deserve a home."

Ms Munroe says the problem is a lot worse than when she started out.

"Four years ago I would've fed maybe two or three homeless. Today we're handing out about 30 meals, three times a week. How many are we missing?"