Merivale Community Inc. (extracts from Merivale - Proud Of It)
In May 1991, Community Constable Glyn Williams called the first of many meetings with Merivale retailers, Merivale School teachers and some Maori elders to look at ways to help local children develop a more positive attitude, increase their self-esteem and improve their opportunities to participate in worthwhile activities.
There was an image problems towards the Merivale community. People, whether they lived in Merivale or outside of it, saw Merivale as the rough area of Tauranga with lots of problems. Being a low socio-economic suburb added to this perception. The police knew the problems in Merivale weren’t as big as people perceived.
– Glyn Williams
A public meeting held in February 1992 identified long-term aims of a youth worker and a community centre, and marked the formation of the now community-driven Merivale Community Group. From the beginning, it was decided that the group should work in a co-operative way to spread the leadership, decision-making and responsibilities around. There was to be no chairperson, instead there would be a community co-ordinator and convenors (later taken over by paid workers) who represent the various sub-groups. The management committee was known as the core group and was made up of a cross-section from the community.
The first community co-ordinator was Saul Te Koari; Helen Unsworth was assistant community co-ordinator; Jean Kerr and Ladi Samuel were the convenors of Family and Youth Activities; Carol Biddiss, convenor of Land and Council Activities; Helen Unsworth, convenor of Resource Information; and Heather Malcomson, convenor of Fundraising and Finance.
The Group described themselves in the June 1992 newsheet as a group of people who are proud of Merivale. We think it is already a great place but we also think that it can be improved. The purpose of the Group was to encourage community relations by focussing on youth.
By June 1992, volunteers and supporters had already organised two fun days, miniball and netball teams, sponsorship for children at Kiwi Ranch Camp and the YMCA holiday programme, a community noticeboard, fundraising at fleamarkets, monthly public meetings at the Merivale School library, a monthly newsheet and contacts with Tauranga District Council and other community organisations.
The Group’s first past and present luncheon was held at the Tauranga RSA on 2 May 1993. Also in May 1993, the Merivale Community Opportunity Shop (mentioned earlier in this book) opened. A large team of volunteers was soon recruited. It eventually closed in 1999, due to increased running costs.
In June 1993, the Group became an incorporated society, officially known as Merivale Community Incorporated, though still commonly called the Merivale Community Group or, more recently, the Merivale Community Centre. The elected core group members at the first annual general meeting were:
John Hughes, kaumatua and community co-ordinator
Ladi Samuel, assistant community co-ordinator
Paul Woods, treasurer
Heather Malcomson, Carol Biddiss, Pat Louden, Arthur Cash, Lewis Martin, Helen Unsworth, Polly Bidois, Bill Knapp, Jean Kerr and Paul Bidois.
From a strong volunteer base, the Group was able to increase gradually the number of paid workers, with assistance from New Zealand Employment Service schemes. The first full-time youth worker, Saul Te Koari, was employed in September 1993 with funding from COGS (Community Organisations Grant Scheme).
In December 1994, the opportunity came up to buy the Rice home at 10 Kesteven Avenue. A steering committee was set up. The house had an ideal layout and location although the buying of a place was five years ahead of plans. The Merivale Community Opportunity Shop had been set up to support the building fund and the Group had accumulated only $5000 towards the costs. A formal application for funding went to Tauranga District Council in January 1995. Through the Annual Plan process, the Council purchased the house and leased it back with a peppercorn rental for a ten year plus ten year lease. It was significant recognition for the work of the Merivale Community Group.
The doors of the centre opened to the public in November 1995. In April 1996, after modifications, 10 Kesteven Avenue was officially opened as the Merivale Community Centre, during a week of festivities.
Ph. (07) 578 6450 10 Kesteven Ave, Merivale, TaurangaView full details >