National | Australia

Mahuta says homeless Kiwis in Aus should return home

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta says young homeless New Zealanders in Australia should consider coming home.

Around 40 organisations have written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urging her to help hundreds of kiwi youth living on the streets.

“I know if they've arrived there and there is no support in the huge city, perhaps they should consider returning home,” says Mahuta.

Iwi n Aus is one of 40 organisations who is calling on the prime minister to urge their Australian counterparts to foot the bill, but also that New Zealand has a duty of care.

“That entails making some kind of representation, and if it means to pay benefits then there has to be a solution,” says co-founder Erina Morunga.

“The worst case is that they could die and no one's taking any notice,” she adds.

Since the 2001 Social Security act New Zealanders have been restricted from accessing social security and citizenship to get the benefit.

Morunga says kids are ending up on the streets due to family violence abuse, substance abuse, and mental illness. Many are Māori.

“There's a massive over-representation of our young people. And always a concern, they can't access any help, they can't access any emergency housing, and they are simply in situations where they can't return home for whatever reason,” she says.

“My focus is helping those in need and is homeless in this country,” says Mahuta.

Mahuta says Māori communities in Australia should discuss ways to help the youth in need.