Ko­tahi - a place for com­mu­nity to be to­gether

Eastern Courier - - OUT & ABOUT - CHAR­LOTTE GRAY

Fi­nal in­spec­tions are com­plete, the last coat of paint ap­plied. This Fri­day evening, the doors of Ko­tahi will open to cel­e­brate the new East Auck­land com­mu­nity cen­tre.

Ko­tahi, from the Ma¯ori word ko­tahi­tanga (unity or to­geth­er­ness), is a place that from the start has been in­tended to bless its com­mu­nity. The open­ing marks the fi­nal steps in a jour­ney of nearly 10 years. In Fe­bru­ary 2006, when BotanyLife Com­mu­nity Church was in its sec­ond year, its lead­er­ship shared a dream with mem­bers; to buy a per­ma­nent, mul­ti­pur­pose build­ing.

It wasn’t just about hav­ing a place for the church to use, ex­plains BotanyLife lead pas­tor Brad Carr. ‘‘We wanted a build­ing that could also be use­ful – a real bless­ing – to the wider com­mu­nity,’’ he says.

Hav­ing a space of their own would also al­low them to free up funds that could be invested back into the com­mu­nity, such as BotanyLife’s an­nual projects, where they help re­fur­bish lo­cal schools.

The Ti Rakau Drive lo­ca­tion wasn’t pur­chased un­til April 2013, as sav­ing the funds took a while, Carr says. ‘‘And as we searched, our church fam­ily con­tin­ued to grow and so our size needs kept chang­ing.’’

The prop­erty needed work, but the church lead­er­ship de­cided it had plenty of po­ten­tial. Ren­o­va­tions were also a col­lec­tive ef­fort, says com­mu­nity pas­tor Mark van Wijk. ‘‘We couldn’t have done this with­out sig­nif­i­cant sup­port.’’

He says as­sis­tance from a range of gen­er­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as the How­ick Lo­cal Board, Lot­ter­ies Grants board, Lion Foun­da­tion, Place­mak­ers Paku­ranga, Speedy Signs, and Chris­tian vol­un­teer builders MMMNZ, ‘‘has been in­valu­able’’.

Com­mu­nity con­nec­tions are al­ready be­ing made, with a Mainly Mu­sic group on Wed­nes­days, while Har­vest Church has ser­vices and ac­tiv­i­ties through the week.

Ko­tahi man­ager Mel Thor­burn says ‘‘any­one that needs a space to train, meet or cel­e­brate – you’re wel­come’’.

The Ko­tahi open day, with free bar­be­cue, is at 4.30-7.30pm on Fri­day, Novem­ber 10, at 272E Ti Rakau Drive, Burswood.

‘‘We wanted a build­ing that could also be use­ful – a real bless­ing – to the wider com­mu­nity.’’

PHO­TOS SUP­PLIED

Church mem­bers, in­clud­ing com­mu­nity pas­tor Mark van Wijk (cen­tre), car­ry­ing out ren­o­va­tion work.

BotanyLife Com­mu­nity Trust’s new Ko­tahi Cen­tre in Ti Rakau Drive, Burswood.

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