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Te Whai opens doors to meet need



21 MF-TeWhai3-803- By Julia Wade

A group of visionary volunteers celebrated the fruition of a long-time goal recently, as they cut the ribbon on premises aimed to fill the social services gap in Mangawhai, dubbed the ‘forgotten lands’.

Registered charity trust organisation, Te Whai Community Trust Mangawhai, have finally found a home – the old Tara School house at the Pioneer Village – after a two year search. More than 30 people gathered at the grounds on October 28, for an opening ceremony and blessing by Apotoro Rehita (registered minister) Albie Shelford.

In her welcoming speech Te Whai chair Donna Flavell acknowledged the community for their support, the pioneer men who ‘toiled away’ to get the grounds ready in time, their husbands, Kaipara District Council and deputy mayor Peter Wethey.

“We give thanks to them for meeting with us, really hearing us and recognising the importance of our vision,” she says. “Peter connected us with the Pioneer Village, this amazing toanga, a treasure of historical buildings. We are very excited for our community that the Trusts goals can now be realised.”

Flavell says the Trust was established from increasing concern that current social services were not keeping up with Mangawhai’s rapid growth rate.

“Regardless of the perception of Mangawhai being a wealthy and healthy community, we were feeling the growing pains because of the lack of desperately needed services. Numerous providers have wanted to work

here, however there has not been a base where they could effectively work from.”

Available regional services can also be difficult to access and require travel, an expense that those in need cannot always afford. Te Whai’s goal is to act as the first point of contact Flavell says, to direct people with specific needs to services they require and to provide a readily accessible centre for support organisations.

“Our vision… is to provide opportunities for improving safety, wellbeing and independence for all in the wider Mangawhai community,” she says. “Our intention is to help people reach their fullest potential by promoting social, political and institutional change… natural health support and education… advocating equality and non-violence in all relationships and promoting sustainable living and care for our animals, land and oceans.”

Te Whai first began in 2015 as ‘Tamatea Community Trust Mangawhai’, named in recognition of the mother and Iwi of Tahe Tamatea, one of the Trust’s founding members. The name changed once Tahe moved from the area, taking her ancestral name with her. The former Hestia/Women’s refuge worker noticed a lack of social services available in Mangawhai and became inspired to set up an organisation to fill the need.

“Tahe gathered us together and we quickly ascertained the need was far wider than her original concern,” Flavell says. “Today we all welcome her back to see her baby take flight.”

n Te Whai is run by volunteers dependent on grants, sponsorship and donations. For more information on donating, volunteering or finding out more about the organisation drop into the new office, Mon 9am-12pm and Thurs 1pm-4pm, email tewhaitrust@gmail.com or check in with Te Whai Community Trust Mangawhai on Facebook.


Registered minister, Albie Shelford, performs a blessing for the new facility watched by chair Donna Flavell, secretaries Sue Poynter and Helen Price, education officer Liz Holsted, advisor Cindy Hempsall, coordinator/contact person Isabel Hollis and project manager Pauline Mann.


“Our vision is to provide opportunities for improving safety, wellbeing and independence for all in the wider Mangawhai community.”

- Donna Flavell

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