NZ’s ‘best’ com­mu­nity

Manukau Courier - - FRONT PAGE - EMILY FORD

Fo­cus­ing on the pos­i­tives has helped a South Auck­land sub­urb claim the ti­tle of the best com­mu­nity in New Zealand.

Rand­wick Park has been named New Zealand Com­mu­nity of the Year, hon­our­ing the sub­urb’s trans­for­ma­tion over the past eight years.

Res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tion chair­woman Ma­ree Beaven and sec­re­tary Denise Tims have been help­ing re-shape the area’s im­age af­ter a fa­tal shoot­ing of a liquor store owner in 2008.

The Ma­nurewa Lo­cal Board has in­vested sev­eral mil­lion dol­lars into re-de­vel­op­ing Rand­wick Park’s River­ton Res- erve, be­hind the liquor store, over the years.

It now has an ex­ten­sive pur­pose-built sport­ing cen­tre, as well as rugby fields, a ten­nis court and skate park.

‘‘It trig­gered the change. Peo­ple stood up and said they don’t want this to be our im­age, it’s not who we re­ally are,’’ Beaven says.

‘‘It’s had the la­bel as be­ing tough and rough and had a lot of neg­a­tive as­sump­tions with Tims says.

‘‘We wanted to flip that and give this area a rea­son to cel­e­brate. It’s gone through a num­ber of years of trans­for­ma­tion.’’

The Com­mu­nity of the Year award recog­nises team­work and was pre­sented at the Ki­wibank New Zealan­der of the Year Awards in Fe­bru­ary.

Beaven says just find­ing out the com­mu­nity made it to the top three fi­nal­ists was ex­cit­ing, as well as win­ning the glass tro­phy.

‘‘I took the tro­phy to Rand­wick Park Pri­mary School and the whole school broke out into a haka. It was so epic, I burst into tears,’’ Beaven says.

Beaven has been it,’’ liv­ing in Rand­wick Park for 14 years and Tims for seven, and they credit the part­ner­ships they’ve built with trusts and or­gan­i­sa­tions for the area’s suc­cess.

‘‘The re­al­ity is, this is not al­ways glam­orous work. It’s hard work but there are times for cel­e­brat­ing to keep you go­ing. We’re win­ning,’’ Beaven says.

‘‘We didn’t go into this say­ing let’s fix things but how can we make it bet­ter. They’re ac­tu­ally very dif­fer­ent ques­tions.’’

Tims and Beaven say they haven’t reached an end goal for Rand­wick Park. They’re de­vel­op­ing so­cial en­ter­prise op­por­tu­ni­ties to help lo­cals get into work as well as help­ing other com­mu­ni­ties achieve their goals. ‘‘This is my sec­ond time here [at skate park] since I moved here. There’s noth­ing too ma­jor go­ing on. I go to school round here it’s a nice area, I don’t see any­thing wrong with it.’’

‘‘We didn't go into this say­ing let's fix things but how can we make it bet­ter.’’

Email edmc@snl.co.nz

JARRED WIL­LIAMSON / FAIRFAX NZ

Rand­wick Park is the 2017 New Zealand Com­mu­nity of the Year. Pic­tured front left is Ma­ree Beaven and front right, Denise Tims.

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