Statement about housing in Christchurch

Thursday 28 June 2012, 6:20PM
By Pita Sharples


Māori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples says he has not advocated that people move into unsafe houses in the Christchurch red zone.

“My reported statement was in response to information I was given about a person who had been living in a car for some time, and my genuine concern for her health and wellbeing as winter was approaching,” said Dr Sharples.

“I told the Press reporter that my immediate priority was for the welfare of people in emergency situations, and that some solution had to be found.

“I was not suggesting that people move into unsafe houses, but there may be houses needing repairs that offer better shelter in winter than a car,” he said.

“The report I got came from a Kaitoko Whanau worker, who had in fact assisted the person they found living in the car. As a result, I have asked my staff to try to arrange a meeting between the Kaitoko Whanau team and Housing New Zealand staff to discuss the best way to respond to crisis situations like this. This meeting has been unavoidably delayed.

“I said there is a crisis in Christchurch because it is not just a housing shortage, it involves dislocated families, people shifting away, going to new jobs and schools, their whole lives disrupted, and at that level it is a crisis.

“I regret that my comments have been conveyed in this way. It is disappointing that the reporter has chosen to take what was clearly a statement of concern for people in crisis, to make a political controversy out of the misery of Canterbury earthquake victims,” said Dr Sharples.