Cir­cus finds a home

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

A COM­MU­NITY cir­cus group is in­ject­ing new life into the Camp­bell Free Kinder­garten build­ing which has been empty for more than two decades.

The his­toric build­ing be­came an eye­sore of Vic­to­ria Park af­ter years of ne­glect but was re­stored by the NZ Trans­port Agency to house stand-by gen­er­a­tors for the Vic­to­ria Park Tun­nel on its up­per floor.

The ground floor was re­turned to the for­mer Auck­land City Coun­cil and the Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board voted in July this year to lease it to the Cir­ca­bil­ity Trust.

The trust, formed in 2012, pro­vides cir­cus work­shops for peo­ple of all ages and abil­i­ties.

They also run classes in schools and for dis­abil­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Trust co-or­di­na­tor Jeanette Pinker says the group is thrilled to have a home in the cen­tral city.

‘‘It’s re­ally go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence. The high pro­file of this build­ing is re­ally go­ing to help and to know that peo­ple re­ally be­lieve in what we’re do­ing and are go­ing to do is great.’’

The trust will lease the build­ing for the next five years.

Cir­ca­bil­ity part­nered with the Toi Ora Live Arts Trust and Ho­hepa Auck­land in its bid to de­velop a so­cial arts hub that is avail­able for the com­mu­nity and artists to hire.

‘‘The thing I love about this whole set-up is I’ve lived around this area in Pon­sonby for al­most 30 years and it’s so great to see a build­ing that was so derelict come to life,’’ Ms Pinker says.

‘‘Peo­ple stop ev­ery day to ask what’s go­ing on.’’

All three groups will use the space, which has been painstak­ingly re­stored to re­flect its for­mer glory.

The 102-year-old brick build­ing was Auck­land’s first kinder­garten and is pro­tected un­der coun­cil and New Zealand His­toric Places Trust by­laws.

It has stood empty since the 1980s and had badly de­te­ri­o­rated.

Cir­ca­bil­ity will pro­vide cir- cus work­shops, Toi Ora will de­velop creative art pro­grammes and Ho­hepa will run art and fit­ness classes and work train­ing pro­grammes for dis­abled peo­ple.

The cir­cus work­shops give par­tic­i­pants con­fi­dence and pride, Ms Pinker says.

‘‘They are so proud of what they can do be­cause they know that not ev­ery­one can. It takes skill.’’

Cir­ca­bil­ity Trust project de­vel­oper Frances Kel­li­her says the next step is fit­ting out the cen­tre with equip­ment and fur­nish­ings to of­fer more classes.

‘‘It’s a real hon­our to be given this op­por­tu­nity. We are of­fer­ing a cou­ple of classes straight away so peo­ple can come and have a look or even bet­ter get in­volved,’’ she says.

Photo: JESS LEE

Place to play: Cir­ca­bil­ity per­former Kerry Wood and coach Rowan Ford Daw­son try out the trust’s new space in Vic­to­ria Park.

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