I recently cut the ribbon at the opening of Awhina House, Tauranga’s new women’s shelter. It was quite surreal to be standing there in the lovely courtyard celebrating this wonderful day as it was only seven months earlier that we had met with Angela, Tania and Colleen from Community Angels to discuss the possibility of the shelter and to ask us, as local MPs, for our support.

Here we are, less than a year later, opening the shelter. Such an amazing effort by these women and the community as a whole, from the funders to the local businesses who all helped to make this a reality. We had the opportunity to walk through the house, what a beautiful space. As I looked into the bedrooms, each with a new single bed and a small care pack of toiletries sitting on a folded white towel I tried to imagine what it would be like for a woman who had been homeless for days, months or maybe even years to finally be able to close the door to her bedroom, to hop into a bed with clean sheets and a warm blanket and to be able to finally rest and have a good night’s sleep knowing she is safe.

As a city there is no doubt we have become more aware and have a greater understanding of homelessness and it’s complex causes and solutions and while there is still work to do there is no doubt we are heading in the right direction.

Jan Tinetti
Labour MP