9 Jun 2016

Child who has lived in van has message for PM

8:18 am on 9 June 2016

An 11-year-old girl whose family had been living in their van for months has a message for Prime Minister John Key: "try walking in my shoes, it's not actually that easy".

With increasing reports of growing homelessness in Auckland, Te Puea Memorial marae had been taking in those in need.

TA, aged 11, told Checkpoint that before living at the marae, her mother, father and five siblings had been living in their van since February.

She said she only slept some nights, and while her mother had a job it was not enough for the family to afford a place to live.

Te Puea Marae

Te Puea Marae Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

"There's no space for by yourself. But we shower at my mum's job, in the morning."

"They're not happy, but they're okay. They're all sick, even I'm sick right now."

She said she had just missed out on a scholarship to St Cuthbert's College, made all the more difficult because of the family's living conditions.

"The hardest part is actually not being able to read in the van, because you don't have space. They're all up in your face," she said.

"And there's not much light because it would waste the battery [so] I can't read."

"It just made me push myself more to do better."

With roughly 30 families taking shelter at Te Puea, TA said it was nice to have some space.

"It's cool how they opened up their doors to us, but we just want a house."

"And they have good food ... we used to have takeaways but we're all sick of takeaways."

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