Highbury fosters strong spirit
Property Weekly continues its series featuring the outlying towns and the suburbs of Palmerston North. Sue Emeny visited Highbury and discovered a strong community spirit.
Highbury, in the northwest of Palmerston North, is a community transformed. Historically it’s a working-class suburb that has shed its less-thandesirable reputation of the past. Its streets are safer and the appearance of the suburb has vastly improved.
It’s a suburb well served with parks and reserves, while three schools, Somerset Crescent, Takaro and Monrad Intermediate, service the area. Highbury shopping centre is able to fulfil most needs and there is a regular bus service.
At the heart of the community is the Highbury Whanau Centre, which was established in response to problems with the behaviour of local youth, particularly around the shopping area.
According to whanau centre manager, Anjali Butler, Highbury is an unique suburb with a huge sense of community.
In June 2005 the centre moved into its current premises, a purpose-built facility, as it had outgrown its original home.
‘‘In the years the centre has been going there has been a major shift in focus from being reactive to proactive.’’
Anj says while organising leisure activities, such as the Junior Youth Touch module, which attracts 1000 children on to Monrad Park each week, education and delivering social service programmes are equally important in the centre’s role.
‘‘One of the centre’s roles is as an alternative education provider, it’s one of only two facilities in Palmerston North.’’ The other is at Kelvin Grove and Anj coordinates that programme as well.
As well, it also delivers youth work services, holiday programmes, after-school programmes, Youth Justice programmes, Brazilian ju-jitsu and rugby league.
‘‘The community does look out for itself, it rallies around when needed.’’
The centre also works with Massey University in granting three scholarships annually to young Maori living in Highbury, and whose graduates include teachers, midwives and the Manawatu Standard’s chief of staff.
Centre youth worker Papa Leota was brought up in Highbury and has seen changes in the community through the years. He sees the centre as an amalgamation of services that meets the needs of the community.
Highbury Avenue, the heart of the suburb is an attractive street with well-tended gardens and plenty of trees.