Homeless families turfed out as concertgoers flood Whangarei

Homeless families turfed out as concertgoers flood Whangarei
Whangarei Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Homeless Whangarei families have been cast out of their emergency accommodation as fans flood into the city for a Six60 concert this weekend.

Katarina Linton, her daughter and seven-week-old grandson initially faced a couple of nights sleeping in their car after their room at a city motel became unavailable through a prior booking.

They have since relocated to more temporary lodgings in a garage, but are still shaken and angry that they have had to move all their possessions out of the motel.

Ms Linton reached out to the band on social media this week, claiming her family's treatment was "totally outrageous, unfair and out of this world".

"We have been put out on the road with nowhere to go," she posted on Facebook. "Our only options are to sleep in our car with our little baby boy, nowhere to heat bottles or sleep."

Ms Linton has had to quit her teaching aide job to take interim guardianship of her grandson, pending a legal custody battle.

She told Newshub she moved out of the Casablanca Motel under cover of darkness on Thursday night and won't return.

Instead, she has worked through local MPs Willow Jean Prime and Kelvin Davis to find alternative arrangements.

"With everything else going on in my life, this just made my anxiety levels go up. I was overwhelmed and didn't know what to do."

Casablanca Motel manager Tel Hudson regretted the inconvenience, but explained his predicament.

Whangarei is braced for an influx of 10,000 concertgoers for the Toll Stadium gig, gobbling up any spare accommodation available.

"About six months ago, we received a huge booking, and we are completely and utterly booked out," says Mr Hudson. "Every room has gone and the booking pre-dated our emergency housing contract.

"We've got no problem with the people staying here, there's just no room for them.

"We have been talking to [various agencies] to make sure everyone knows the situation. As far as we know, alternative arrangements should have been made, but I don't know what they are."

Mr Hudson would not confirm if he had other tenants in the same situation, although Ms Linton claimed there were.

Without referring to specific cases, Ministry of Social Development insisted it knew of just one person impacted by the Six60 gig and had made other arrangements for them.

"Ultimately, we want to ensure everyone in need of safe, secure housing has somewhere to stay in the immediate term," says MSD acting regional director Kiriwai Jones.

"Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants are paid for on a week-by-week basis, due to the temporary, short-term nature of a client's needs. Where motels have pre-existing bookings, they are obliged to keep them.

"We encourage anyone who has a housing concern over this weekend and has not yet spoken to us about it to contact Work and Income (0800 559 009)."