MP wants funding freeze for Rotorua homeless motels and investigation into ‘absolute train crash’

It is “an absolute train wreck” in the eyes of Maori party co-leader and MP for Waiariki, Rawiri Waititi.

National Housing spokesman Chris Bishop MP called it “a social and economic disaster”.

Normally opposing political forces condemn the continued use of Rotorua motels as emergency accommodation for homeless people.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Waititi said he was calling on Housing Minister Megan Woods to launch an independent inquiry into the matter.

* ‘Golden Mile’ to ‘MSD Mile’: Rotorua’s reputation takes a hit amid housing crisis
* Violence, drugs and vandalism around homeless motels seen as ‘destroying our city’, says Rotorua mayor
* Ardern: Motel hosting ‘interim measure’ but no end date in sight for Rotorua
* ‘Nothing suspicious’ about fire that destroyed emergency housing hotel
* Triaging Rotorua’s homelessness issues will take ‘longer than anyone thinks’
* Rotorua motel owners fear penalties for refusing unwanted guests in emergency accommodation

Maori party co-leader Rawiri Waititi wants an independent inquiry into Rotorua's emergency accommodation.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

Maori party co-leader Rawiri Waititi wants an independent inquiry into Rotorua’s emergency accommodation.

‘Rotorua emergency housing is a real train wreck,’ he said,

He also took aim at the government for deciding to “throw away another $145 million to maintain the status quo”.

“The investigation must be independent and ensure that every dollar paid to contracted organizations by departments is scrutinized.

“We also need to stop new emergency referrals and stop additional new spending until the investigation is complete.”

For Bishop, the latest complaints about social housing in Rotorua were an example of “the government’s utter failure on housing after five years in power”.

He said emergency housing was “a social and economic disaster that the government has simply put in the basket too hard”.

Although the issue burst onto the wider political scene following TVNZ’s Sunday broadcast, it was never far from the surface in Rotorua, where, according to Infometrics 2019 data, the Visitor sector contributes 17.2% of its GDP.


Rawiri Waititi says successive governments have created the emergency housing crisis in Rotorua.

There has been political backsliding, as evidenced by a November 2021 letter from Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick to Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni.

In this letter, obtained by Things Via an Official Information Act request, Chadwick was candid in his description of the damage caused by the antisocial behavior resulting from many motels.

There was drug use, violent behavior, vandalism and other antisocial behavior on a daily basis, she wrote.

“The perception is that those living in emergency accommodation are destroying our city and its reputation.”

The man responsible for bringing visitors to the city, RotoruaNZ chief Andrew Wilson also spoke to Things in March on how the issue was affecting one of the city’s main economic backers, especially before the borders reopened.

When asked directly if the situation at the MSD motel and the continued buzz of crime and anti-social behavior was beginning to impact Rotorua’s reputation as a tourist destination, his response was candid.

“Yes. Without a doubt, it has an impact on the reputation.

Rotorua's Fenton St has been nicknamed MSD Mile by locals.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

Rotorua’s Fenton St has been nicknamed MSD Mile by locals.

There is even a lobby group set up to lobby against the motel issue.

Restore Rotorua was created by Trevor Newbrook for a reason: “how it will affect tourism in Rotorua and the damage it does to our local economy”.

“It’s gone on too long, and it’s getting bigger,” Newbrook said.

“We have to have a leaky lid policy. Right now, we have just the opposite.

One area of ​​the broader motel debate is also the subject of some consensus; that the only solution is more houses.

“And it’s moving pretty slowly,” Wilson said.