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Kaitiaki on board in Flaxmere

Kaitiaki Small

Connecting the community: With Hastings District councillor Jacoby Poulain are the new Kaitiaki, from left: John-Harley Wang and Sean Ferguson and Tihema Cooper.

Three new kaitiaki are aboard Flaxmere’s community waka, focused on connecting youth with the wider community in the busiest gathering place in the suburb.

The three official Kaitiaki (guardians) are aligned with the Flaxmere and City Assist teams, but with particular responsibility for the Flaxmere Library, Flaxmere Community City and the Flaxmere pool.

The library and community centre had in excess of 173,000 people through the doors last year, while the pool had more than 70,000 through its facility, not including school groups at an estimated 50,000.

At the official welcome on Thursday [May 10], Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the Kaitiaki would help fulfil the vision and direction that Council and the community had for the hub.

“The Flaxmere community hub is a place to connect people with each other and build a strong and vibrant community.”

The Kaitiaki had been on site for five weeks, and feedback from the community and staff had been positive, said Hastings District Council community facilities and programmes group manager Alison Banks.

They were brought on board in response to a number of serious and violent issues in the area about three months ago, however the picture was much broader and more forward-looking than that one issue, she said.

“A great deal of this is about building strong resilient communities and well-being long-term.  Council has a responsibility to ensure our communities in general, and our facilities in particular, are safe for everyone to use.

“The Kaitiaki have two functions; they are our eyes and ears in the community and they provide good role models for our youth – set good examples of appropriate public behaviour. They interact with the kids; they might play a game of basketball or table tennis with them; or just talk about how their day went or their goals and aspirations.”

The new positions were one of a number of strategies put in place to support the Flaxmere community in its drive to make it a safe place, said Mrs Banks.

“We have worked very closely with the community over the last few months to come up with a plan that everyone believes will make a difference.”

The Kaitiaki, Tihema Cooper, John-Harley Wang and Sean Ferguson, work in shifts throughout the week, during opening hours.

Mr Cooper said the team was interacting well with the community.  “It doesn’t take long; once they know you are there for the right reasons and that you have an interest in them, they respect what you are trying to achieve.”

Mrs Hazlehurst said the community centre was the perfect place from which to run other Council services such as the Youth Connectors. They provided a wrap-around service helping young people finding it difficult to get work. They helped prepare youth for work, placed them with participating employers, and then provided pastoral care as they settled into the workplace.

“The hub is a place for all of our people; for our young people it can help provide pathways to learning, earning or volunteering, playing sport, swimming, or reading and researching,” said Mrs Hazlehurst.


14 May 2018

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