And connecting people is precisely what Anna likes to do, so it is unsurprising that her family calls her a “people collector”.

The list of Anna’s community initiatives is long: from running Facebook groups, including the ‘Palmerston North Women’s Social Group’, ‘Friends of Savage Park’ and ‘Savage Community Group’ to organising events in the reserve and establishing a community garden.

One of the events Anna looks back on with pride is the open-air cinema she organised in the reserve a few months ago. “A massive number of people turned up and everyone had a great time,” she says.

Having experienced housing transformation overseas, Anna understands the importance of communities getting to know each other as cities change.

“When I lived in London, the city went through a transition where original homes were being replaced with skyscrapers. There are positives to this style of living, but it can also become isolating without the usual foot traffic and interactions with neighbours,” says Anna.

“I remember one woman decided to build a community centre, and the benefits of getting locals to come along, get to know each other and build community connections were really incredible.

“That’s what I aspire to do for others. I like it when I find out that one person has connected with another person in the community and that this made a difference in their lives. Because that is how I think these things spread and ripple out.”

Alongside good planning, it takes people like Anna to help build sustainable, thriving, and inclusive communities. In her work, Anna aims to not only bring people together but also to support the environment.

“Luckily, my backyard is close to the reserve, so I contacted Environmental Network Manawatū, who helped me turn it into a community garden. We’ve got quite a few winter veggies ready for harvest for the community already.”

Anna’s backyard turned community garden is also a collection point for the community’s household food waste as part of a new Community Composting initiative by Manawatū Food Action Network.

Anna has hundreds of other plans for the future, big and small, but it’s the community that has her heart.

“People in the community often ask me why I do the community work. It‘s because I am absolutely enjoying it, and I am sure I would be bored otherwise!” Anna says.

“The busier the reserve gets, the better. We know people are enthusiastic about having events there and I’m currently exploring opportunities to organise a local market. There are so many opportunities for the community to connect!”

Media Contact

Page updated: 23 May 2024