Te Mahana Homelessness Strategy

19 February 2013

We're working with government agencies and non-profit organisations on a strategy to end homelessness in Wellington by 2020.

Women's Refuge workers helping a family move into their new home

Women's Refuge workers help a family move into their new home


Part of the project is about changing public perceptions of homelessness to show that it can include families and people from a variety of backgrounds and situations who need the right support to find a home and security.

The Council's Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Stephanie Cook, says she has high hopes for the strategy.

"The work that's been done so far has gained huge momentum. Hopefully after this consultation we will be given the go-ahead to get some great initiatives off the ground - many of them working together to help our homeless people, as well as those at risk of being homeless."

The strategy is called Te Mahana, which speaks of the warmth found in a home. This warmth is more than a roof, beds and food - it includes whether people feel safe, included and respected.

Philippa McAtee, the Wellington Women's Refuge Manager, says Te Mahana fits their ethos. "Some of the women we help may have a roof over their heads, but safety and respect might not be part of everyday life. We work to give women information and support to make the right decision for them and their families."

In 2011/12, Wellington Women's Refuge supported 210 women and 256 children at a community level - where they may still be in an abusive relationship, staying somewhere other than their home or are focused on staying safe in their home. At the refuge's safe-house, 53 women and 53 children stayed during that same year.

"Sadly we can't accommodate women when the issue is homelessness rather than domestic violence, and they need somewhere to stay for the night. We simply can't take them on - we struggle to have enough room and resources to accommodate those fleeing abuse at home.

While we try to refer homeless women to other services, it's not ideal," says Philippa.

"Many people in the community help us out, such as a hostel offering us a discounted rate for women at risk. But it's good to know Te Mahana might result in more collaboration between services so we can do more to help homeless women when they approach us."

Philippa says they have developed good working relationships with some government agencies, such as the Police and Work and Income.

"It's changed our clients' experience with these agencies - having policies and dedicated people to support women who have experienced domestic violence. If more of this could happen between government agencies and social workers on the ground, this could improve the situation for the people we work with."

Te Mahana, the draft strategy to end homelessness by 2020, was launched today for public submissions. To find out more or to make a submission, visit:

Public Input - Te Mahana - A Draft Strategy to End Homelessness in Wellington by 2020