Residents at the Karaka Flats in Nelson have met for morning tea every week for more than a decade – developing, and nurturing, close friendships along the way.

“The morning teas have been such fun and we’ve all got to know each other so well over the years,” says Anne, a Karaka Flats resident for 12 years and great-grandmother of seven.

“The social aspect is so warm and welcoming, and non-threatening. When you come in, you’re fragile from whatever life has thrown at you… but you begin to make contact with other people and you get to relax,” she says.

Every week, residents contribute a plate of goodies each, and put a gold coin in the kitty for cups of tea.  The community hall gives residents the opportunity to meet for morning tea in a central place, popping in and out as they please. It’s also given them a place to create long-lasting memories with each other. Over the years, it’s played host to soup days, fish and chip days, even a fashion parade.

Karaka Flats residents enjoy a chat and a laugh at their weekly morning tea.

Kāinga Ora took over ownership of the Karaka Flats in 2021 and since then has maintained the community hall on behalf of the residents. The gold coin collection from the morning tea used to pay for the hall’s maintenance but, instead, residents recently donated $450 to Hospice New Zealand. They also used some of the funds to put on a barbeque at the complex.

The regular get-togethers have helped to instil an even greater sense of community at the Karaka Flats. Residents look after each other, checking in on others if curtains are pulled for longer than usual, or if someone is unwell.

Andrea, who has also lived at the Karaka Flats for 12 years, says the morning teas and other events help her to feel part of a community. “I came up here after the earthquakes in Christchurch and they made me feel safe.”

Dave, a resident for four years, says, “You get used to other people’s routines, especially your neighbours who you interact with all the time, and you just intuitively know if something’s not right. We look out for each other.”

Another long term resident, George, says he wouldn’t be without the weekly catch ups, and they will become even more important as he gets older and less mobile. “Getting old can be a bit lonely and it can sometimes be difficult to get yourself to the bowling club, or whatever. This is a great opportunity to socialise. It fills a need.”

Kāinga Ora Senior Housing Support Manager Toby says he enjoys catching up with the Karaka Flats residents every Friday morning. “There’s a wonderful sense of community at the Karaka Flats and residents, and I, really enjoy the collegiality of the morning teas. They’re a great opportunity for friends to spend some time together, and they continue to look after each other throughout the week,” he says. 

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Page updated: 28 March 2023