Kelston is home to energetic youth, a vibrant cultural mix, keen business owners, large successful schools and a number of church congregations, but they are also home to some of the most economically disadvantaged residents of Waitakere. This article paints a picture of Kelston. It highlights the many strengths and some of the gaps in these areas and details conversations that have been had with a variety of groups and individuals as to what community resources they would like to see in Kelston.
A key theme that emerged was the need for effective and relevant community development that is focused on building community cohesion at a neighbourhood level. This is supported by international and national best practice which has identified that the most successful ways of developing strong, active and resilient communities is to engage in activities that will enhance the connections and relationships amongst people and will strengthen common values and promote collective goals. The research tells us that effective community building activities can increase people’s sense of belonging, feelings of safety, acceptance of diversity, liking for the local community and reduce antisocial behaviour and community disharmony. In other words, connected communities are healthy communities.
In both Glendene and Kelston the vast majority of people surveyed and spoken with described a lack of connection to their community. They said there needed to be more pride in their communities and many of them wanted more opportunities to participate in their communities. Although this study was asking about programmes and activities that might be provided in a facility, people were more concerned with the environment that they lived in. They talked about the safety of their streets and neighbourhoods and the way they looked. They wanted them cleaned up and they wanted better access to parks and the natural resources of the Whau River. A new community resource Kelston needs to include a focus on building community cohesion and safer neighbourhoods by working alongside local people to improve their neighbourhoods and the natural environment.
There are people from all walks of life which is awesome!
The Whau River – Te Whau
Central to the Kelston and Glendene areas is the Whau River. ‘Te Whau’, which takes its name from the whau tree, is the Maori name for the tidal creek flowing into the Waitemata Harbour. Over the centuries, a number of related hapu or sub tribes lived around the Whau district, connected to Ngati Whatua and Te Kawerau a Maki. The Whau River is approximately 5.7km long, 800m at its widest and about 400m wide at its mouth. The Whau catchment covers 29.4km and crosses from Waitakere City into Auckland City. In the past, Maori and Pakeha used the Whau River as a food source and over the years since then it has become seriously degraded. Now it is the long-term aim of the Friends of the Whau to restore the health and quality of river and its eco-systems. Throughout the study, the importance of the Whau and its banks has been highlighted, with the wish to have it restored to its former cleaner days mentioned constantly by different parts of the community.