Friends of the Farm – a community group
Living Locally Meeting #2
Another great session at the Living Local evenings, read about it here:
On 11 November 2020 around 50 Mangere Bridge residents gathered at Ambury Farm to learn more about their community. Friends of the Farm (FoF) facilitator Jane Gravestock kept the programme moving.
First up, Janine Nillesen, an Ambury Park Ranger, talked about FoF. “Our vision is of a caring, connected, wastewise community. We began doing beach clean-ups and clearing mangroves seedlings from the harbour as ways to connect people to the environment. That progressed into projects focused on minimising waste. Our popular Tote-All Recall bags, available in the Library and the Fruit and Vege shop, were ahead of the times! “We sewed fabric bags for people to use instead of plastic bags well before the nationwide ban on single use plastic bags. We run a community orchard, do wastewise education, promote recycling, run school holiday programmes, host community picnics, and have just produced our first community newsletter. The Living Locally series aims to connect residents to their community.”
Next, Grace Doherty, Keith Griffin and Aude Salmon gave an informative update on the bridge replacement project, which is costing $38 million. Thoughtful design and artworks will make the new bridge a stunning addition to our community. “Community feedback informed the design process,” said Grace. “and will ensure better access to the harbour for boats and canoes, better lighting, a gentle slope to make it accessible for all users, bench seating and fishing bays located where the water is deeper. Care for the surrounding environment led to several features, including raingardens to clean stormwater before it reaches the harbour and trees and other planting at the entry and exits of the bridge.” Keith explained how cofferdams are being used to construct new concrete piers. “Lots of preparation work is done before the bridge piles are poured. The steel foundation piles are driven 20 metres below the seabed; about the height as a five-storey apartment block.”
The ‘icebreaker’ sparked lively banter and laughter. Jane invited people to imagine the inside of the barn was Mangere Bridge and asked people to stand where we lived. People found others who lived nearby and some close neighbours met for the first time. Representatives of local groups talked about what they do. The groups were: Mangere Bridge Bowling Club, Tararata Stream project, Mangere Bridge Walking Group, Mangere Bridge Library, Mangere Bridge Kindergarten, Auckland Chinese Community Centre, Ambury Park Centre, Tuesday Cycle Group, Mangere Boat Club, and Portage Waka Ama Club.
Local resident Frances Hancock, standing in for Pania Newton, gave a sensitive account of the history of Ihumātao, explaining the backstory to the current challenges there. It was great to learn more about this special place and what the SOUL Campaign is all about and their aim to protect the whenua (land) for future generations.
Vicky introduced the Ambury Park Centre. “We run educational and vocational programmes that help improve the lives of children, adolescents and adults from 16 months to 80 plus,” she said. “Our work is based on unique and inspirational equine therapy.” They offer Intensive and Remedial Riding Therapy, a vocational programme for adults with disabilities, an independent secondary school for students aged 13-18. The students care for the Centre’s 25 horses, do academic study and community activities. The Centre is located at the end of Wellesley Road and has an indoor and an outdoor arena, as well as a growing vegetable garden. Locals can drop in and collect horse manure for their garden. (Bring a bucket and koha!). “We welcome volunteers, young or old, there’s always plenty to do,” said Vicky. “Or be a donor or a horse sponsor.” Check out the gingerbread horses and decorated horseshoes being sold at the Centre and the Library to raise funds.
Many stayed for supper to mix and mingle. 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.
Special thanks to Jacinta Kerrigan of One Agency Realty for providing refreshments and contributing to the cost of this community event.