Killer streets, revolting racism

Killer streets and revolting racism summarise the Auckland City Missioner’s view of the world from a homeless person’s perspective.

These streets are where hundreds of vulnerable people live – and die. A disproportionate number are Māori.

Homelessness is a terrible situation, says Helen Robinson. It can take up to 30 years off someone’s life. It affects everything: physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

“It affects us on every level of our being from practical, where do you wash yourself or put your clothes, to not feeling safe.

“Imagine what it’s like for every moment of every day to have no place to know you are safe.”

At Home Ground, the Mission’s central Auckland shelter, street community members die at age 50 on average. That’s 30 years earlier than the national average lifespan.

They struggle to cultivate and maintain relationships and employment; they battle drug and alcohol abuse and neglect health.

There’s nowhere near enough money or resources to help.

One in six New Zealanders needs help with these issues.

We’re all just two or three life events away from that reality.

Revolting racism

“I am incredibly conscious we are seeing the impact of colonisation,” Robinson says. It’s “deeply incumbent” on her to “mirror the impact,” she adds.

“When you strip people of their land and resources, this is the result.

“We all need to see the truth, and we need to continually call our country to account.

“The level of racism I sometimes see is revolting, but more and more New Zealanders are coming to understand the harm that has occurred.”

Māori women are among the most vulnerable members of our community, Robinson says.

“They have been silenced and marginalised like no other group in our society. There is a real challenge to be appropriately responding to the needs of people, particularly Māori.

“We need to make sure they feel connected, comfortable and welcome.”

Help needed

Robinson says the need she sees at Home Ground is far greater than the Mission can meet.

Working people and the unemployed are suffering. They’re homeless. Hungry. There’s only so much in a weekly budget.

“Many New Zealanders simply don’t have enough money for food,” Robinson says.

The Mission provides about three million meals a year.


Last year the Mission delivered 10,000 food parcels and 40,000 gifts for tamariki in the weeks leading to Christmas.

Robinson’s anticipating an even greater need in 2022 and is relying on the community to fill it.

“Food and toy donations are absolute gold at Christmas.

“We know where the need is greatest, whether its baked beans or a pavlova,” a Mission staff member comments.

Get real

While, as a country, we have much to be proud of, there’s a lot that we need to address, says Robinson.

“We need to be brave … acknowledging the number of people that are homeless and hungry.

“Women are bearing that burden. We desperately need to have those honest conversations. What does it mean to use alcohol safely? The significance, impact and amount of domestic violence. It’s just too much. The only way out is if everyone is talking about this.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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