A new Manuka Cottage site will open the doors to stronger community connections in Addington.
Work is under way on the $600,000 project in Cornelius O’Connor Reserve, with the turning of the first sod by Spreydon-Cashmere Community Board Chairperson Karolin Potter and Manuka Cottage Governance Board member Allan Hudson.
Community development agency Manuka Cottage has a 20-year lease on the Christchurch City Council-owned site, with the Council funding the new building.
The agency aims to make lasting connections, break down barriers and provide support within the Addington community.
“Manuka Cottage is all about creating a place where people can belong no matter where they have come from, so that a confident, strong local community can be nurtured and grown,” Ms Potter says.
“By bridging the gaps and strengthening our common bonds through such special community-powered places we can help lessen social isolation and create opportunities for change so that the whole community benefits,” she says.
“We want to instil confidence in our community, and pride in our area and Manuka Cottage is well-placed to deliver those all-important connections in a neutral, visible, easy-to-access park setting.”
For Manuka Cottage manager Cherylan Davies, Manuka Cottage is the ideal base to “create a network of information, resources, sharing and daily support through a variety of interests and purposeful projects”.
“We offer a programme of groups, activities and events designed to facilitate social connection, build a sense of belonging, and foster local responsibility and participation towards a safe, caring and sustainable community,” she says.
“Having a physical base for community development is an asset to Addington.
“It gives the community a place to connect socially and on common interest points as the community gathers to address local issues.
“It provides a safe place to be involved, and access to information and resources.
“We can now run more groups, according to the needs and aspirations of Addington residents.”
Work on the site – including the new building, a car park area and relocating the playground to the west side – is due to finish by August.
The 193.89-square-metre brick and weatherboard building will feature a meeting room, a central community space, staff offices, a kitchen and reception area and a west-facing patio.
The decision to build on the reserve, which sits at the heart of Addington, has followed extensive community consultation.
Established in 1993, Manuka Cottage has been involved in various local projects, including walking, art and writing groups, crafts, a shared lunch or coffee, a cafe, and a fruit and vegetable co-op.
It also offers a “time bank” – an avenue for seeking and providing help – and supports the local community with an after-school and holiday programme, well-being meetings and a regular newsletter, the Addington Times.
The group, which works with the Addington Neighbourhood Association, has been operating out of St Mary's Church following the 2010-11 earthquakes.
Ms Potter says everyone is thankful for the church’s generosity. “They have been beyond generous and we’re very grateful for their kindness, and particularly the energy, love and leadership of Allan Hudson,” she says.