Tauranga kids facing homelessness grin from ear to ear receiving early Christmas presents

Lots of children in Tauranga are riding brand new bikes donated by the community for Kids In Need. But they can't hide a far more serious and growing issue in the Bay Of Plenty - homelessness. Source: 1 NEWS

Christmas wishes came true for children caught up in the Tauranga's homeless problem, receiving bikes from the Te Tuinga whanau trust over the weekend.

The city's seen unprecedented growth this year has made it tough for some Tauranga families.

Record median house prices have boosted the local economy but created some inequality.

"I've been principal at Merivale School now for 10 years and this is the toughest that our community has faced," said Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti.

"At our peak we had 16 out of 120 families who were homeless.

Tauranga deputy Maoyr Kelvin Clout said homelessness was an issue right throughout New Zealand, and that pressure was being felt a lot by Tauranga.

"In Tauranga we're a very popular city; a lot of people are coming here and that has put a lot of pressure on housing," he said.

Legislation has allowed the council to free up land, creating 11 special housing areas.

This will see almost 3000 houses built.

"Those homes are likely to be smaller, on smaller sections and will be more affordable," said Mr Clout.

For now the new bikes will make this Christmas one to remember.