RāWiri Community House’s popular vegetable garden restored after crash
A community vegetable garden is being brought back to life after an encounter with a runaway vehicle.
A popular vege garden at RāWiri Community House in Manurewa was damaged about six months ago when a car went off the road and crashed through it before coming to stop near a neighbouring property.
“We were having a meeting here [at the time],” house manager Liz Kiriona says.
“One of the ladies screamed out ‘there’s a car in our backyard’.”
Housing NZ had the fence repaired but the community house, which is run by volunteers, had to fix the garden.
Students in Manukau Institute of Technology’s Māori and Pasifika Trades Training programme stepped in to help and have spent several weeks fixing and improving its vegetable garden.
Kiriona says it was being used as part of the house’s Healthy Living Programme before it was damaged.
“Stage one [of the programme] was our walking group, stage two was the garden, and stage three was a cooking class.
“We couldn’t get past stage two [because the garden was damaged].”
The garden contained a wide range of vegetables, which anyone could take to eat, Kiriona says.
“It had … beetroot, cabbages, herbs, peas and beans. Everything we could get, we had in there.
“Whoever needed vegetables could take what they wanted. Our garden never got trashed or abused.
“People driving past would see it and stop and pick something.”
Kiriona says the students have stripped the garden and replanted it with “any vegetables and seedlings they can get”.
“They’ve given it a huge makeover. It’s really cool. What they’re doing for the community is huge.
“They don’t have to do this. They’re thanking us for giving them the opportunity and we’re thanking them for doing it.”
Rangimahora Rāwiri, who lives in Takanini and belongs to the Ngāti Paoa iwi, is one of the students involved.
She says they’ve been working to bring the garden back to its “former glory” and as a way to help the house’s kaupapa (principal or policy).
“We each have different roles to play. The nursery students have been weeding, pruning, cutting back what’s overgrown, mowing the grass and filling in potholes.”
Rāwiri says the work has been a “really cool experience” for the students, many of whom live locally.
“It gives us a sense of pride that we’ve been able to support these people so they can continue to support their community.”
Manukau Institute of Technology relationship manager for Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Naomi Tito says the students will also maintain the garden once they’ve finished repairing it.
“They use this as their practical [part of their course]. They chose this one as a way to give back to the community.
“They live in south Auckland and it’s really important for them.”