Tuia te Hāpori – A practical response to local needs in Nelson

Tuia te Hāpori is a recently opened community hub in a low-income suburb of Nelson. The project highlights the importance of genuine person-to-person connections between local families, business, and social services. It also emphasises the pivotal role of a dedicated co-ordinator with values that mirror those of E Tū Whānau.

Tuia te Hāpori is a simple two-roomed building previously used in Christchurch during the earthquake recovery now relocated to a freshly landscaped section on the corner of Orchard and Karaka streets, Stoke, in a largely Kainga Ora community.

This image is of a group of people sitting along a wooden walk way and deck outside a small black building at the opening day barbeque for Tuia te Hāpori. There are about 30 people eating together on a warm-looking day.
Opening day BBQ

It’s designed as a welcoming space for local whānau to pop in and talk with kaimahi from a range of agencies and social services. NZ Police, MSD, ACC, health educators, and Nelson City Council representatives are already onboard. Sporting and youth support groups are showing a keen interest in getting involved.

This image is of Local resident Deborah Poulton with her three young moko at the Tuia te Hāpori opening day. Deborah is holding some food. Behind the group, a table with BBQ food is visible.
Local resident Deborah Poulton and her moko at the Tuia te Hāpori opening day

Kainga Ora arranged the initial funding and sourced the building for Tuia te Hāpori. E Tū Whānau has supported the project from its inception, with its focus on community-led action that strengthens whānau. 

Local connections supported by Tuia te Hāpori 

Although most people in this ethnically diverse suburb live well together, tensions between a minority of neighbours have, at times, escalated into violence.  

Whakatu Te Korowai Manaakitanga Trust kaimahi, Donna McKinnon, wanted to hear from local residents what they thought would make their homes safer and their lives easier. She talked to them, kanohi ki te kanohi, and found out what they wanted and what they needed. 

Tuia te Hāpori is a practical response to the needs these local whānau expressed. 

Street Co-ordinator, Donna McKinnon and her ever supportive colleague, Robyn Parkes, Whakatu Te Korowai Manaakitangi Trust Manager stand with arms around each other smiling at the camera. They are in a kitchen. Behind them, a poster says "Ehara tāku toa i te toa takitahi ēngari he toa takimano. My strength is not that of an individual but that of a collective."
Street Coordinator, Donna McKinnon and her ever supportive colleague, Robyn Parkes, Whakatu Te Korowai Manaakitangi Trust Manager

Donna, who also works as a budget adviser and has a strong background in grassroots education, is now officially the project’s Street Co-ordinator. She uses her warm, outgoing personality and her innate people skills to build and nurture relationships with residents.   

Importantly, Donna has equally solid and trusted relationships with Police, government, local body, and relevant social service agencies, as well as with many supportive members of the local business community. 

“It’s the kōrero that starts it all. That’s where the ideas and the enthusiasm is born. We have a chat then, next minute it’s ‘Donna, I can do that?’ and, boom, it just happens,” Donna says. 

The community relationship manager for the local Mitre 10 Mega Helping Hands programme, Murray Leaning, is one of her most committed and helpful partners. 

“Murray has been a driving force behind this project. He made sure that all the necessary materials and the skills are available and shared with the community. We couldn’t have done this without him,” says Donna.

Tuia te Hāpori is just getting started but already locals are wandering in for a kōrero. Some have come along to turn the soil on what will eventually be a small garden. Others are getting involved in the organisation of on-site community BBQs.  

Ideas are coming thick and fast, and Donna is energised by every one of them. 

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