There is a small, barren little plot of land on the corner of Miranda, Ruahine and Umbriel streets in Glenavon. A few years back the area was one of the early redevelopments of Kainga Ora (KO) land. In its current state, it is not really that useful for anything. The surface is too uneven for kids to enjoy informal sports.
About two years ago neighbours were talking with Shalema Wanden-Hannay (Community Waitakere) and Eva Wongchiu from the Glenavon Community Hub, saying that they would like to see the space be made more useable. A Hub board member, Tepano, had a vision of the land becoming like the heart of a village to the residents; a place where they could come together to socialise and to celebrate.
Because Glenavon Community Hub is working closely with KO, discussions on possible development continued. KO promised some money to help, and the Whau Local Board came up with some funds for art from their budget, but it was still not enough to get started.
The land is actually owned by KO, not Auckland Council, and it could be developed by KO into housing in the future, so council funding is not an option.
Then a breakthrough occurred when the Central Interceptor Project took over a site on Blockhouse Bay Road and removed the playground from that part of Miranda Reserve. Watercare wanted to temporarily install the playground equipment on the KO land and were told that actually, the local community, led by the Hub, had plans for that area and to talk to them. Fortunately, there was a group like the Hub to represent community voices.
Now that Watercare was onboard, work progressed to define exactly what the community wanted. A survey was conducted to gather ideas and a community day held at the park. They were asked what they wanted the park to feel like, giving a sense of community ownership.
There are big expectations for a small amount of land. Mainly people wanted some open space to remain so that they could gather for play, events, and socialising. Eventually a draft plan was drawn up based on feedback. The plan includes flowers and fruit trees around the perimeter, a bike/scooter track, a nature trail, a multipurpose concrete stage area that could be used for hoops, large balance beams, a portable BBQ for events, and artwork at one end. Four artists submitted concepts that were shown to the community, who chose the one that resonated with them most.
It has taken a long time and a lot of consultation to get this far. Now people are getting really excited about seeing it become a reality.
The vision is also a community meeting place. For example, instead of the cost of going to a commercial venue, friends and neighbours could gather for a child’s birthday party. This space could be a model for other pocket parks around the city as housing intensifies and backyards disappear. Then having a great little park a short walk from home will be a huge asset.