PHOTO: CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF Reception at The Northerner – it’s now used as a motel and short-term accommodation facility.

Once upon a time it was the premier hotel in the Far North, the place to stay for tourists and business travellers. Now, it’s described as a dumping ground for the down and out. Tony Wall and Florence Kerr reveal the secrets of The Northerner in part one of ‘No place to live/Kāore te kāinga, kāore te ora’, a Stuff investigation into a housing crisis in the Far North.

As night falls over Kaitaia, The Northerner comes alive.

At one block, people are busy doing various domestic chores, while two women huddle by the entrance sharing a roll-your-own.

A teenage girl pulls a hoodie over her head and scurries towards a waiting car.

A Toyota Surf parked nearby isn’t going anywhere – two of its tyres are flat.

A man is looking intently at the ground. He bends to pick up something, studies it for a few seconds and whips it into his pocket – his search for smoke butts continues.