A twist on the hit reality TV show The Amazing Race saw more than 120 Mount Wellington locals and 20 organisations come together for an afternoon of fun on November 12, despite the blustery Auckland weather.
Working with Violence Free Communities, Housing New Zealand staged Our Amazing Place to bring locals together and showcase key assets in the Panama Road/Riverside area.
Housing New Zealand Community Development Manager Karen Allen says Our Amazing Place is based on a treasure hunt concept.
“Participants entered in teams and followed a pre-set route, collecting stamps in their passports at the various stations along the way.
“Each station had a question or activity and teams who successfully filled their passports and completed a survey went in to a prize draw.”
Violence Free Communities general manager Lyn Amos says the idea is to get people exploring their own community and engaging with each other.
“We’ve been running these events for several years now and the feedback tells us participants experience a greater connection to their community and become more aware of the support that’s available to them.
“It was a pleasure to work with Karen and Housing New Zealand and to be amongst the families, stall holders, fun and laughter on the day.”
Karen says the organisations and activities at the event were specifically chosen to reflect what the community had earlier identified as important during a focus group.
“Among the topics highlighted were parenting, water safety, budgeting and legal advice, medical help, smoking cessation and other social services. So we aimed to involve organisations who could provide information and support in these areas.”
Karen says there were plenty of goodies for the kids en route, as well as a sausage sizzle and a bouncy castle operated by Bounce for a Cause, a group that invests its proceeds into youth clubs and youth employment.
The treasure hunt concluded at the local Panama Road School hall where the children put on Kapa Haka, choir and band performances, and the prize-giving was held.
Karen says Housing New Zealand has dozens of existing properties in the area, as well as several redevelopments under way with a number of modern new homes due for completion in early 2017.
“With events like these we’re aiming to encourage a robust sense of community, integration and acceptance, as well as promoting values such as being a good neighbour. As Lyn says, we also want to connect people with each other and the resources close to them.”
And, according to the feedback received, the event achieved just that.
“Ninety-three per cent of those who staffed one of the stations said they would participate in another Our Amazing Place and 93 per cent of participant teams said they felt more a part of the community as a result of the event. Eighty-nine per cent also said they were more aware of what’s available in the local community, Karen says.
“Overall 80 per cent of respondents rated the day as ‘wonderful’ or ‘close to wonderful’ and there were lots of thanks and comments of appreciation.
“The wind and rain were pretty awful – we almost got blown away – but the results were absolutely worth it,” Karen says.