Honouring diversity and building strong community
Not a lot used to go on in New Windsor, but that has changed dramatically since July 2019 when Shalema Wanden–Hannay, (working for Community Waitakere and funded by the Whau Local Board), arrived to start a community hub.
A robust steering committee now oversees an organic collection of activities and ethnic groups, and community consultations have provided a better understanding of how people feel about their area and their aspirations for it. Some events, like the recent Matariki celebration held at New Windsor Primary, have really brought the community together.
New Windsor’s inaugural Matariki event in July with a traditional hangi, market stalls, kite flying competition and kapa haka performances drew a large crowd and was a milestone event. To build on a strong community connection though, it is important that decision-making is community led. Working with people from so many different backgrounds takes a lot of time to achieve real engagement and ownership. This involvement is necessary to build a strong local identity.
It is hard to remember any community events in the suburb over the years. Lacking a central focus like a main street, and intersected by an expanded arterial route, New Windsor has been described as the left-over bits from its bigger neighbouring suburbs. The population in 2018 was 7,758 and there were 2,253 dwellings. In 2013, 52% of people in New Windsor were born overseas, compared with 39.1 percent for Auckland as a whole, with 10.1% speaking Hindi. The suburb continues to attract many new migrants.
The New Windsor Hub like many others has been established in the former school dental clinic, thanks to the generosity of New Windsor Primary. This is a great location as the school is the de facto heart of the community. Two days a week the Hub volunteers operate a breakfast club in the school and emergency food parcels are available. Other activities like Mainly Music and an opportunity to practice English are on offer.
Principal Lisa Harland says the Hub is a vital part of grassroots community development. “I can see that it provides a place for our local community to gather and to access services and activities that enrich their lives”, she says. “Shalema and her team are inclusive and inviting to all, and are always interested in new and exciting initiatives they can get involved with”.
It is really exciting that the Hub is now becoming a platform to build community in a way that respects and embraces the diverse community of New Windsor.