Creating a sense of whānau for the whole neighbourhood
22 November 2023
Tāmaki Makaurau customer Jacqui is legendary in her West Auckland community. As well as caring for her six – soon to be seven children – she spends much of her time volunteering at the Glenavon Community Hub near her Kāinga Ora home.
Jacqui is a driving-force at the hub, with a passion for bringing people together to create a sense of connection. Located in the heart of a diverse and welcoming community, Jacqui and her team of volunteers at the hub are passionate about celebrating the range of cultures represented in the area through cultural events, classes and by simply sparking conversation.
“When people pass the hub, they stop to look and chat, and right away they’re making connections – which is what it’s all about. Some go on to volunteer with us, and we love having that help and the chance to get to know each other.”
So, what exactly happens at the hub? As the beating heart of the community, the hub is a base for all sorts of wonderful services and activities including Kai Connect, a local food parcel service; Making Ends Meet, a ‘free shop’ of donated clothing and household items; and free workshops in te reo Māori and tikanga.
And Jacqui plays a key role in all of it – including leading the te reo Māori classes.
“I grew up speaking te reo Māori and I want to give others the opportunity to learn, reconnect with their cultural identity and fill their kete with knowledge,” Jacqui says.
“Running these classes is an opportunity for me to give back to the parents in our community. Our tamariki learn te reo Māori at school, and this lets them learn the same thing their tamariki are learning so they can continue to speak and learn te reo Māori together at home.”
But Jacqui is clear that she is just one in a network of amazing volunteers who help make the Glenavon Community Hub the lively meeting place it is. Two of these volunteers – and Jacqui’s friends – are Wahine and Wiki, also Kāinga Ora customers who live nearby. The pair volunteer to help with Kai Connect, saying it’s their way of giving back to the community that has welcomed and supported them.
They’re modest about their contributions, pointing out that to give is to receive.
“I know what it’s like to struggle and I do whatever I can to help out – we all do,” says Wahine. “We have a great relationship and understand that working together benefits everyone, and we always have a laugh!”
Wiki agrees, having been blown away by the support the community wrapped around her when she needed help herself.
“When we were in lockdown for COVID-19, Whaea Jacqui delivered a kai parcel to help get me and my family through,” Wiki explains.
“So when we got out of lockdown, I came to the hub and asked Jacqui how I could help out. I know that helping people in need makes a big difference and I wanted to be part of it.”
And for Jacqui, stories like that are what it’s all about.
“We’re a family here and our priority is to focus on what we can improve for our people and to bring everyone together. This way we can make our community safer and stronger.”
Page updated: 22 November 2023