Places and spaces crucial for Gillon
Maureen Gillon believes villages need their own spaces.
Gillon received a medal from Porirua City Council last year as part of the city’s 50th birthday celebrations.
She’s most proud of the City Village Planning concept, which she was involved in when she was a Porirua City councillor.
‘‘I’m fascinated by the ability of public spaces to connect people,’’ she said.
The idea behind the project was to encourage communities within Porirua to create their own unique identities and work with the council to embed their ideas.
‘‘Porirua has 11 villages, each with their own identity, and the city is their core,’’ she said.
‘‘Villages need spaces of their own for people to come together in.’’
Waitangirua and Plimmerton were early adopters of the scheme, she said, and the work by council staff within communities won Porirua an international award.
Gillon said the character of a community is defined by the quality of its public spaces.
She said as spaces have become more friendly in Porirua, people are meeting more in them. that
‘‘It creates life, energy and heart. Our local cafes and parks are important meeting places. I’m fascinated by the ability of public spaces to connect people,’’ she said.
Gillon said her own favourite place is the Pauatahanui Inlet.
‘‘I walk around it and go out in the canoe. My favourite time of the year is now, when the water is like glass and not too cold.’’ Gillon has long championed for better health and education outcomes for Porirua’s young people.
She was involved with Healthlinks, a group that helped people access services they needed and helped to develop local solutions to local problems.
The project was an early forerunner for Primary Health Organisations in Porirua.
Gillon also chaired the Literacy Project, which sought better learning outcomes for Porirua children.
In 2013 she organised a landmark Porirua education summit to formulate an action plan for schools.
She said caring about people is in her genes.
She said the people of Porirua are passionate about local issues and getting involved. ‘‘Porirua has a vibrancy that is not evident in some places. It’s difficult to describe, more like a feeling.’’