It takes a village – locals get behind community space
17 December 2021
What started as an empty grass area with a small, shared pātaka kai and a community bookshelf is now a vibrant communal space with its own stage and a custom-designed mural, thanks to enthusiastic Glenavon locals.
The area between Miranda St, Umbriel Lane and Ruahine St in Auckland’s Blockhouse Bay now also boasts a nature trail, a bike and scooter track, a four-square grid and large balance beams.
The community worked on the design with Kāinga Ora, and several other organisations; including Watercare, which is building a wastewater tunnel or ‘interceptor’ close to the space, Community Waitakere, Glenavon Community Hub, Glenavon Community Trust, Auckland Council, Whau Local Board and Arts Whau.
Locals of all ages attended a series of workshops and developed a plan for the best use of the space, Community Development Manager, Community Engagement and Partnerships Auckland North and West Karen Allen explains.
“The initial workshop (held before lockdown) was at the Glenavon School hall and the second was on-site where the community got more creative and put pen to paper for their space,” Karen says. These early workshops were facilitated by Community Waitakere, she says.
Further workshops were held at the Glenavon Hub to finalise the plans, Karen says, adding participants even met over Zoom in lockdown to keep the project going.
“Local residents have a strong sense of ownership and belonging to their community,” she says, noting originally the space featured a small shared pātaka kai and a little library shelf of books.
“This showed a glimmer of the community’s potential to work on something even bigger.
“From the very first workshop back in November 2020, one of the key ideas has been about a village coming together, and this has definitely been apparent during this process,” Karen says.
Eva Wongchiu, Community Coordinator at the Glenavon Community Hub says locals across different generations have wanted the space to be redesigned for a long time. She agrees the community has thrived through the collaborative process.
“It has made them feel their voice is heard. It has broken barriers. People have said ‘cool, I’m sitting at the table with the Auckland Council and Kāinga Ora.’ Even the Blockhouse Bay Baptist Church donated two kowhai trees.”
“The project has been an excellent example of kotahitanga at its best,” adds Kāinga Ora Senior Housing Support Manager Naomi Jessie.
Whau Local Board Chair, Kay Thomas says that it shows the value of working with the community. “We have been delighted to be able to support this project from the beginning. It’s a wonderful achievement and shows how much can get done when everyone comes together.”
The space also features a mural by Samoan comic artist Michel Mulipola with paint donated by Resene. The mural been developed through extensive co-design with local people and funded by the Whau Local Board.
The artwork features themes of community and whānau as well as greetings in more than 25 languages.
Page updated: 17 December 2021