[This column by Lizzie Marvelly first appeared in the NZ Herald on Saturday 2 July 2016]
Before last July I had no idea how it felt to sleep out on the concrete in the middle of winter. I never knew that your bones ache, not just from the cold, but also from the constant contact with the hard, uncompromising surface. I didn’t know that the ground feels much colder than the air, or that sleeping in the city means being woken up almost hourly ” if you get to sleep at all. I never realised that sleeping outside with a group of strangers can activate ancient human instincts, leading you to cling to any person you know, regardless of how shallow or recent your connection.
As a privileged woman who has always been able to rely on having a roof over her head, I had a lot to learn. My ignorance, however, was a bittersweet blessing that an increasing number of New Zealanders can no longer count on. As the weeks roll by and we fall deeper into the winter months, more than 41,000 Kiwis have no place to call home. And in our proud little nation, we all know that’s not the Kiwi way.
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