Rotorua locals fed up being used as 'dumping ground' for New Zealand's homeless - National's Todd McClay

Todd McClay.
Todd McClay. Photo credit: Getty Images

Rotorua locals are fed up with the city being used as a "dumping ground" for New Zealand's homeless community, National Party MP Todd McClay says.

During the first lockdown last year after COVID-19 hit, motels were filled with homeless people rather than international tourists that were shut out by the closed border.

Despite this ending in April when alert level 4 was lifted, there are estimates that up to 2000 people are still in motels in Rotorua.

McClay, who is also the MP for Rotorua, says with suggestions up to 45 motels in the city are being used to house homeless people, locals are concerned about the social disorder linked to these facilities.

"There's a very clear feeling from local people that Rotorua is being used as a dumping ground for the Government's homelessness problem," he tells Newshub.

"In the area of Fenton St where many of the motels being used are, [there's been] breaking and entering into the houses, burglaries, cars being broken into, assaults and intimidation has grown significantly. Actually, it's obvious that there's a lot of gang involvement in the area now."

He adds this is not the fault of the people in motels, it is the consequence of putting people into emergency housing and telling them they'll be there for "many years".

Inspector Phil Taikato,​ area commander of Rotorua police, told Stuff last week that although crime has "relocated" from other neighbourhoods to the Fenton St area, overall crime in the city is down 10 percent over the past 12 months.

"Dare I say it, it's horrible to say, but you've got all these young brown bodies, people walking up and down Fenton St and people don't like it. It's a perception. I'm not going to say it's racism. It's just a perception there's more crime happening down there."

McClay says he doesn't accept Taikato's comments.

"Of course, if overall crime is down 10 percent, it's because for a couple of months last year people were locked away, but in and around the Fenton St area, it's certainly not the case.

"Every car in a street was broken into, the number of people who have their homes broken into increases considerably."

He says locals "don't care" who it is that is breaking and entering, they just want it to stop.

As a result, McClay is holding a public meeting on Monday night so locals can voice their concerns.

"The number of emails, concerned calls, and messages to my office has grown considerably over the last three or four months. It feels like people have had enough. I want us to come together and find constructive solutions and ways to move forward."

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said in January she wants more urgent progress on getting people out of emergency accommodation and into homes in the district.

"We have a housing plan, we are aligned with the Government on what needs to happen and are working in partnership with its agencies, iwi and other relevant stakeholders," she says.

"I now want to see more impetus on producing homes and will continue to advocate and lobby at every opportunity for that to happen with urgency."