By Vanessa Crowe, Sustainable Communities Coordinator
Time banking, community gardening, creating local hubs, supporting local families, promoting community safety, sharing local assets to encouraging generosity and transforming local environments. These are just a few of the skills and interests of a passionate grass roots crew who recently came together to be a part of Boost Camp. Held at Tatum Park in September, Boost Camp brought together over 30 community leaders from across the North Island. It was developed in response to research by Strengthening Neighbourhoods in Aotearoa who identified the need for more opportunities for the community group leaders to connect and upskill, focusing on wisdom around what works and enables neighbourhood-led action to thrive.
I had the privilege of being a part of the weekend, having it happen in the Kāpiti area provided an excellent opportunity to show off an example of the amazing things that are happening within our local community. On Sunday afternoon Boost Camp went on an outing, visiting the Waitohu Stream Care group at Ōtaki beach. The group were fantastic ambassadors for the Kāpiti Coast, sharing their inspirational story and the tangible results of their years of hard work.
We meet at the Moana St nursery in Ōtaki Beach and Sue McIntosh, the group’s Chairperson, explained how Waitohu Stream Care is a voluntary community group who work together to restore the dunes, wetland and estuary of the Waitohu Stream. They were established in 1999, with a goal to improve the quality of the then ‘filthy’ stream. With numerous accomplishments now behind them they are going strong with members aging from 7-86 years. They meet every Monday morning for planting followed by morning tea. In doing so they are able to grow from seed and then plant over 1000 plants each year, slowly repairing the dune. Adding an annual winter swim and Christmas party into the mix ensures the group enjoys a great mix of socialising and the rewards of their communal efforts. Their hope is that those upstream will be inspired to take an interest in the stream also.
After a guided tour around the dunes and stream banks Boost Camp participants were invited to share in an incredible spread of home baking for morning tea. Seeing the results of all of the group’s work doubled with supreme hospitality encapsulated what makes the Waitohu Stream Group so special. It was certainly inspiring for the Boost Camp crew to see how such a simple approach can enable a group to grow, thrive and sustain themselves over a long period of time.
For more information on the Waitohu Stream Group, particularly an overview of what they have achieved, click here. Sue says the group will be weeding from now until June and they welcome any able bodied volunteers who would like to help out. For more information contact Sue McIntosh: 06 364 0641 or email: email@example.com