Living Rough: Hunter Gatherers of Tiamoana




homelessness, stigma, deviance, healthcare, life course


This article is based on a qualitative study of modest scope that set out to gain a sense of the daily life of homeless people in a New Zealand regional city. We present our data in the form of an ‘impressionistic tale’ (van Maanen 2011) to convey a day in the life of a homeless person living rough on the streets. Our findings confirm what is already known; that homeless people occupy the crevices of urban spaces. Their daily work is driven by imperatives of finding food, clothing and shelter as well as alcohol and other substances, and keep- ing out of the way of the public and the police. Despite the hardship, some homeless people enjoy the freedom of being feral. We propose that re-housing homeless people requires addressing structural barriers that compound the harsh realities of homelessness such as anomalies in government and social agencies and the social stigma accrued from criminal records. It also requires overcoming the negative capital accumulated from adverse lifecourses, and improved government support for the social and health services that care for the most marginalised people in society.

Author Biographies

Leo Revell, University of Otago

Leo Revell is a general practitioner working in a free clinic in a North Island town. His interests include medical anthropology, poverty and homelessness.

Chrystal Jaye, University of Otago

Chrystal Jaye is an Associate Professor in the Department of General Practice and Rural Health. She is a medical anthropologist with an interest in medical education, clinical teamwork, patient experience, and ageing.




How to Cite

Revell, L., & Jaye, C. (2016). Living Rough: Hunter Gatherers of Tiamoana. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 13(2), 111–134.