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Homelessness is a significant and complex issue, and it will take a whole of community response to address it. We have a large number of local support services who are doing important work to help families throughout the region navigate complex issues.

When we think 'homelessness', we often think of people sleeping on the street or in a park. However, homelessness encompasses much more than just rough sleeping.

The effects of being homeless are experienced everyday by many of our vulnerable community members and we need to ensure that we provide care and support for the wellbeing of individuals and families experiencing homelessness and housing stress.

Council and Police are here to help

If you are concerned about an individual or family or want to report behaviour, there are two options:

Option 1 - Call us on 07 577 7000


  • report concern over someone sleeping rough
  • seek information on how to support someone experiencing homelessness
  • report a person or an object that is blocking a public place with no intention of stopping people from passing.

A bylaws officer will check on their wellbeing and encourage compliance with our city's rules, if applicable.

Note: if a person is homeless we are not able to move them.

Option 2 - Call NZ Police on 105 (non-urgent) or 111 (urgent)


  • report intimidations, aggressive or anti-social behaviour
  • trespassing someone from private property
  • report drug use, substance abuse or drinking alcohol in banned areas
  • report a person or an object that is blocking a public place with the intention of stopping people from passing.

Police will respond.

We’re here to help – who to contact poster (91kb pdf)

For copies of the poster, contact Melissa Ward (Kāinga Tupu Advisor) at melissa.ward@tauranga.govt.nz

Homelessness is defined as a living situation where people with no other options to acquire safe and secure housing are without shelter, in temporary accommodation, sharing accommodation with a household, or living in uninhabitable housing.

This includes:

  • living without shelter, or in makeshift shelters – e.g. sleeping rough or living in a car
  • living in temporary or emergency accommodation – e.g. night shelters, refuges, hotels/motels, motor camp sites and boarding houses
  • living in shared accommodation temporarily with others – note: the usual residents of the dwelling are not considered homeless
  • living in uninhabitable housing – e.g. dilapidated dwellings or those not intended for human habitation, like garages.


  • a person moving between different forms of accommodation listed above is still considered homeless
  • a minor (aged under 18 years) moving between different households, temporary accommodation and the streets is still considered homeless
  • a person currently on a waiting list for a home, but who is living in one of the defined categories above is still considered homeless
  • a person who has housing in a different geographic location, but whose living situation in Tauranga meets one of the categories above is still considered homeless
  • a person who has recently left their usual residence but cannot return to it for safety reasons and who is currently living in one of the categories above is still considered homeless.
  • Casual rough sleepers who have a home elsewhere – e.g. sleeping in a park overnight or people on holiday sleeping out.
  • Tourists and travellers even if they have no usual residence – e.g. touring in a mobile home or living in a converted house truck.
  • Students living in halls of residence and hostels.
  • People who are temporarily homeless because of a civil defence emergency.
  • A person who is between places – e.g. students staying with friends while looking for a flat, staying in a boarding house after recently moving to Tauranga.
  • A person in supported housing that is intended for long-term accommodation – e.g. IHC group homes.
  • A person living in a cold, damp or non-insulated home that is not dilapidated.

For more information on the definition of homelessness visit the Statistics NZ website

Homelessness is not the fault of an individual. It is a complex issue with many pathways that can contribute to a person or family experiencing homelessness. In most cases, homelessness is not something that happens overnight – it is often a cumulation of many complex factors. Individuals or families who are facing homelessness have often been exposed to stressful life circumstances and need support and assistance to re-establish long-term accommodation and wellbeing.

Pathways that can contribute to homelessness may include one or more of the following factors:

  • housing stress
  • mental health
  • drug and/or alcohol addictions
  • family harm
  • sexual harm
  • financial debt
  • social isolation (including estrangement from family/friends)
  • childhood neglect.

When people think of homelessness, they often think of people sleeping on the street or in parks. But it is more than just rough sleeping. As part of a research project carried out in 2020 by the Western Bay of Plenty Homelessness Providers’ Network, the experiences of those who have been or are homeless in Tauranga was documented in a book called ‘When the dominoes start to fall’. This collection of 18 stories provides insight into the lived experiences and systematic barriers that we need to overcome in Tauranga.

When the Dominoes Start to Fall (6mb pdf)

Tauranga has many social service agencies working tirelessly to support our individuals and families in need. For more information refer to our 'He awhina mōu - Need a hand’ flyer to see a list of the local support agencies.

Need a hand flyer (574kb pdf)

This resource is updated each year. If you know of a service that should be on this resource or would like printed copies of the flyer please contact jodie.robertson@tauranga.govt.nz

Essential community and social services during Christmas/New Year (39kb pdf)

Thank you for wanting to help. If we all do a little, it can make a huge difference to the community we live in, and the city we love.

There are a number of ways you can help.

  • If you feel safe to do so, check in to see what the individual and/or family need for support and help connect them to the right agency.
  • Use our 'He awhina mōu - Need a hand’ flyer to help direct people to the right service to meet their needs.
  • Spread the word among your friends, family and community groups – with greater understanding, comes greater empathy.
  • If you have spare time, consider volunteering with agencies that are supporting homelessness - a list is located in the 'He awhina mōu - Need a hand’ flyer.
  • Next time you are having a clean out of furniture, clothes or sports and recreation equipment, consider donating it to one of the services listed in the 'He awhina mōu - Need a hand’ flyer.
  • If you have food to spare, there are plenty of community meal providers who are able to distribute on your behalf – these are listed in the 'He awhina mōu - Need a hand’ flyer.

Need a hand flyer (574kb pdf)

Essential community and social services during Christmas/New Year (39kb pdf)

Western Bay of Plenty Provider Network

We are helping support services come together to discuss collaborating on services and projects that support individuals and families experiencing homelessness. It is important that we work together, in a coordinated way, so that we can share resources, people and understanding towards a common goal. It is vital that our most vulnerable individuals and families receive the support they need, when they need it, and that we don’t create any additional barriers.

This network meets every six weeks and is facilitated by SociaLink Tauranga Moana. For more information on the provider network or to be a part of the group please contact SociaLink

Kāinga Tupu: Growing Homes (Western Bay of Plenty homelessness strategy)

As multiple national, regional and local stakeholders each have a role in solving homelessness, there is value in developing a strategy so that an integrated approach is taken to resolving identified barriers in a coordinated way. This strategy sets out a vision to eliminate homelessness for the western Bay of Plenty. It defines clear roles for a wide range of agencies, funders and service deliverers involved across the sub-region. 

Vision: Homelessness in the western Bay of Plenty is prevented where possible, or is rare, brief and non-recurring
Mission: As a sub-region, all residents have the right to housing that is warm, safe, habitable and affordable

Kāinga Tupu: Growing Homes – strategy (executive summary) (109kb pdf)

Kāinga Tupu: Growing Homes – action plan (203kb pdf)

For more information on the strategy or action plan please contact Melissa Ward (Kainga Tupu Advisor) at melissa.ward@tauranga.govt.nz

Funding from BayTrust, Tauranga City Council, TECT and Te Pūni Kōkiri enabled the development of our sub-regional strategy.

Mayoral Taskforce on homelessness

To help ensure the action plan above is successfully implemented, a western Bay of Plenty Mayoral Taskforce has been established. The taskforce is chaired by Mayor Tenby Powell and has a primary function of advocacy, sourcing resources for implementation, and monitoring overall progress and outcomes.

Organisations represented include:

  • Tauranga City Council
  • Te Pūni Kōkiri
  • Bay of Plenty District Health Board
  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • Ministry of Education
  • Department of Corrections
  • Kāinga Ora: Homes and Communities
  • New Zealand Police
  • Wise Group
  • Representation from western Bay of Plenty Homeless Providers Network

For more information on the Mayoral Taskforce please contact Melissa Ward (Kainga Tupu Advisor) at melissa.ward@tauranga.govt.nz

Vital Update – Tauranga (findings available from June 2020)

‘Vital Update – Tauranga’ is a research project that looks at the geographic communities in Tauranga: who makes them up, and what their needs, wants and aspirations are for their neighbourhood’s and the wider city.

Acorn Foundation, TECT, BayTrust and Tauranga City Council have teamed up to carry out this research, so we can all create a better future for residents. Information collected within this research will support further planning in the homelessness and housing spaces with data we have never seen before.

Release of research reports is due June 2020.

Funding and support for local services

While we are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the western Bay of Plenty homelessness strategy and action plan, we will continue to provide funding (or rent in kind) to some local services. We anticipate providing greater support following the outcome of the action plan. The services we currently support are providers directly involved in housing solutions and temporary relief for those individuals and/or experiencing homelessness. These services include:

  • Awhina House (Women’s Shelter)
  • Takitimu House (Men’s Nightshelter)
  • The People’s Project
  • Tauranga Foodbank.


Phone number

Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797
Ambulance 111
BOP Sexual Assault Support Service 0800 227 233
BOPDHB Crisis Line 0800 800 508
Elder Abuse Helpline 0800 32 66 865
Family Violence Information 0800 456 450
Healthline 0800 611 116
Lifeline 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357
National Mental Health and Addiction Helpline Text or call 1737
NZ Police 111 (urgent) or 105 (non-urgent)
Tauranga Women's Refuge 0800 733 843
Victim Support 0800 842 846

The western Bay of Plenty is often viewed as an affluent community. In reality there are several areas experiencing the highest levels of deprivation in New Zealand with many requiring ongoing social support

Begging is not the same as homelessness. People who beg for money are not necessarily homeless, in fact most people who are homeless do not beg and tend not to engage with the general public.

Homelessness impacts our whole city. It is not an individual issue, it is a community issue and will take all of us to contribute to a solution.

Last Reviewed: 26/07/2021

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