Lights brighten com­mu­nity

North Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - CAITLIN WAL­LACE

Once upon a time it was a scary thought walk­ing down Nga¯ru­awa¯hia’s Ge­orge St at night. Now the tides have turned thanks to the Moko Club.

Since the early bi-lin­gual child­hood cen­tre opened early last year near Nga¯ru­awa¯hia High School, it’s never felt safer - ac­cord­ing to school board mem­ber Elaine Pre­ston.

It’s due to a myr­iad of rea­sons but what has helped is the in­stal­la­tion of lights at the cen­tre

With a bright mu­ral along the walls, the colours are also il­lu­mi­nated.

‘‘Since the lights came on at Moko Club there has been a drop in van­dal­ism and tag­ging,’’ Pre­ston said.

‘‘Wha¯nau have ex­pressed that their tamariki feel safe walk­ing home af­ter train­ings be­cause the street light­ing is bet­ter...a few years ago you didn’t dare get out of your car at night.’’

And it’s boosted re­spect and pride for their neigh­bour­hood, she said.

‘‘This [prop­erty] was an eye­sore back in the day, it was just a shed on an over­grown sec­tion, to see it be­ing utilised gives a sense of be­long­ing.’’

Be­fore the cen­tre had been built, a fence was erected and the next day it had been tagged.

Back then van­dal­ism was a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence for the neigh­bour­hood, she said, but there hadn’t been any in sight since.

Pre­ston said there had also been an un­ex­pected col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the school and the club.

With a num­ber of teenage moth­ers, the cen­tre has been not only a place they can bring their chil­dren to, but was also of­fer­ing in­spi­ra­tion to en­ter into an early child­hood ca­reer.

Nga¯ru­awa¯hia Moko Club man­ager Pare­takaka Jef­feries said it was also about es­tab­lish­ing their place in the com­mu­nity.

That was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant dur­ing the build­ing phase.

‘‘It’s the good neigh­bours too, hav­ing the good re­la­tion­ship [and] hav­ing the com­mu­nity on board as well, you can only get that by hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion.’’

Pride in the neigh­bour­hood had helped res­i­dents look out for one an­other as well, she said.

‘‘What also makes a dif­fer­ence was we put up a sign say­ing this was part of the Kı¯ngi­tanga of­fice.’’

The club is one of two in the North Waikato com­mu­nity, the other be­ing in Huntly West which has been op­er­at­ing since 2011.

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