Living Locally Meeting #3
November 26, 2020 No Comments Workshops Colin

Here is our final summary of our Popular Living Locally Meetings by Robyn Martin, FoF Storyteller

On 18 November 2020 around 40 Mangere Bridge residents gathered at Ambury Farm for the third Living Locally community conversation. Friends of the Farm (FoF) facilitator Jane Gravestock gave a brief introduction to the work FoF do towards making Mangere Bridge a caring, connected wastewise community. Jacinta Kerrigan from One Realty generously provided refreshments and contributed to the cost of this community event.

First up, Mark Barnard, vicar of St James Church Mangere Bridge shared the history of the church and the urupā. Mark is new to the Bridge, joining the parish in March 2020, just in time for the lockdown! The church was built in 1859 by Tamati Ngapura, brother of the first Māori King Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, with support from Bishop Selwyn and with stones from the maunga and mortar made with sand from the foreshore. “It is one of the earliest stone churches in Auckland” said Mark. “The urupā is of significance for Tainui and associated iwi and contains the graves of early Maori bishops and relatives of Princess Te Puea Herangi. The church and the urupā are an incredible taonga in our community.” Tangata whenua continue to care for the urupā and recent vandalism led its guardians to decide to erect a fence. “A whanau member who does not wish to be named generously offered to provide the materials and build the fence as a koha.”

Mark said the urupā also contains a large mass grave for 1918 flu epidemic casualties and a memorial stone near the church marks the tragedy. He also talked about the many families who take part in weekly church services and other activities – everyone is always welcome , he said.

For the ‘icebreaker’ Jane invited people to imagine the inside of the barn was Mangere Bridge and asked people to stand in the area which meant the most to them. Some identified the foreshore, while others the maunga, the farm or the village.

Next up were Jennifer Charteris (Stakeholder Liaison Advisor) and Bojan Jovanovic (Lead Civil Engineer, Mangere site) from Watercare to tell us about the Central Interceptor project. “The project started in 2019 and will be completed by 2025. The aim is to carry waste flows from parts of the city to the Mangere Waste Treatment Plant. The main pipes are tall enough for a giraffe to stand in.” said Jennifer. Bojan explained that concrete shafts are being constructed on the Mangere site, and showed photographs of the size and complexity of the project. ‘Spoil’ removed from the tunnel was being taken to Puketutu Island to reconstruct the original volcanic cone.

Bojan’s enthusiasm for the project was evident when he told us about the early morning arrival of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) two days ago at 4.00am. “I couldn’t sleep for the excitement” he said. “The TBM is named Hiwa-i-te-Rangi, after a star in the Matariki cluster, and was chosen from entries submitted by local schools. You can see the video of the TBM arriving on site in Mangere on Watercare’s Facebook page.” Anyone interested in receiving electronic updates can email

Representatives of local groups talked about what they do. The groups were: Tararata Stream project, Mangere Bridge Walking Group, Mangere Bridge Probus Club (meets every 4th Friday at 10.00am at the Bowling Club), Tuesday Cycle Group, and Mangere Pony Club. Trevor from the Tararata Stream Project drew our attention to the AT website which is requesting feedback on the new cycle lanes proposed for Coronation Road. Don’t miss your chance to have your say before the closing date of 23 December 2020.

Our final speaker was Janine Nillesen, a well-known local who has been a Park Ranger for 18 years. Her enthusiasm and dedication shone through as she described her job. “We have four responsibilities: farming, recreation, conservation and education.

Stock is moved around all Auckland’s regional parks and at times Ambury has 500 ewes and 900 lambs grazing” she said. “Eventually stock will be removed from the foreshore and the land will be restored to a coastal habitat with marshes and coastal wetland, providing a better habitat for the many birds at Ambury. At times Ambury has 5000 godwits and is also a breeding colony of the endangered black billed gulls.” Watercare has returned some fields to Ambury for the birds and stock grazing.

The farm has many loyal volunteers who help daily to maintain the park for the 15,000 school children who visit each year for hands-on learning about farming and conservation. “Many children have never touched a sheep before or seen a cow milked. Milking is part of the Ambury heritage” said Janine. “Originally this land was a dairy co-op supplying Auckland with milk.”

Ambury Farm Day has been running for 30 years and around 35,000 people attended in 2019, with 250 volunteers helping on the day. A new popular summer event is Movies in Parks, with around 5000 people coming together to watch a movie outdoors. Ambury’s campground is popular with visitors and a variety of groups use the park (including families having all-day picnics, walkers, cyclists, and people from all over Auckland of every age and ethnicity). All enjoy the connection to the land and the freedom and space. “We are fortunate to have this taonga in our back yard.”

All up another great night and heart-warming to hear about the valuable work being done to improve our place and strengthen connections to community.

FoF’s first Living Locally series was a great success. “Speakers were brilliant, organisers put care and thought into the events, thoroughly enjoyable, looking forward to learning more. Thank you,” said one participant who summed up what many others felt. FoF plans to host other community conversations like this in the future.

About The Author
Colin I'm Colin the horse. I live with my pal Conner at Ambury Farm Park. We have a great time with all the folks that visit the park along with our best friend Ranger Janine who makes sure we are both healthy and happy. Come say hello some time. I bet you didn't know horses could write web articles!!