In their first year of operation the Hastings District Council kaitiaki have become a hugely valued, vital part of the council’s services to the community.
Whether at the pools, the libraries or other community spaces where they are needed, over the past year their presence has fulfilled the council’s aim to make the community feel safer.
The team, which has grown from an original three, gathered at the Flaxmere Community Centre on Friday last week to celebrate their first birthday with some home-cooked kai and the appreciation of the Hastings District Council.
When the initiative began, they were tasked with being the eyes or ears of the community encouraging positive behaviour across all areas of the district to ensure Hastings is a safe and vibrant place to live and visit.
Over the year there has been positive spinoffs as a result.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was their personalities, their caring nature and support of people young and old that made our kaitiaki stand out.
“We have seen a massive difference within our facilities and our community feels safe.”
Tihema Cooper joined the kaitiaki scheme when it began and said he’s seen some big turnarounds with the community since that time.
“The community has our backs fully – our tamariki, our rangatahi, are our main concern and they have become more supportive as time has gone on.
“Another great thing is that our mature people are around more – they are coming to our facilities regularly and it’s really nice to see.”
As some of the kaitiaki roles are seasonal, such as at the pools, the birthday celebrations were also a farewell for some of the team members, who group manager community facilities and programmes Alison Banks said will be more than welcome back if they choose next season.
She said that the team and the initiative have been positively received, not only by the communities they were supporting, but also by staff working within the facilities the kaitiaki are based at.
“These guys and girls carry out their roles with pride and have been embraced by many.”
2 April 2019
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