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Green thumbs-up at Newtown Park Flats

NEWS RELEASE

29 August 2008

Green thumbs-up at Newtown Park Flats

Tenants of the Newtown Park Council Flats have joined the growing self-sufficiency movement with a major upgrade of their community garden – which will be officially opened tomorrow, Saturday 30 August.

The project has been driven by the tenants themselves – in line with the City Council’s focus on helping tenants create their own community-based initiatives – and complements a range of initiatives aimed at addressing recent problems at the Newtown Park complex.

Mayor Kerry Prendergast says the garden will provide a much-needed focal point for the community at Newtown Park Flats – one of the Council’s largest social housing complexes. “This is such a great way for tenants to spend time together as a community – not to mention making their environment more visually appealing, and giving them the chance to save some money on fruit and vegetables.”

The community garden was built with the help of the tenants, Operation Green Thumb and the Council in 1994. It was popular for growing a range of fruit and vegetables, but last year tenants decided it was in need of a radical makeover.

The Chair of the Newtown Park Garden Green Group, Alan Ottaway, has been the driving force behind the project for the last year. “It has taken a lot of work but it’s been worth it – the garden looks great and we have 17 garden areas on the site. We couldn’t have done it without the input of a wide range of individuals and organisations.”

A key factor in getting the garden upgraded was the involvement of Community Work parties – offenders carrying out community work sentences, supervised by Corrections Community Probation and Psychological Services (CPPS). The offenders provided around 1600 hours of labour, building raised beds, digging holes for fenceposts and doing work that would have taken the community months to complete.

CPPS Wellington Area Manager, Matire Kupenga-Wanoa, says the Newtown Park Flats job was popular among the work crews. “Jobs like this are a really direct way of offenders demonstrating reparation for their offending and giving something back to the community. It’s also a very practical way to help offenders learn new skills and work habits, which can assist with future employment.”

The Newtown Park Flats community garden operates under the Operation Green Thumb umbrella, which is supported by the City Council and Lotteries. The project was also supported by the Wellington Housing Association of Tenants, Trust House and Bunnings.

Media are invited to attend the opening of the garden, behind the Fire Station Block at Newtown Park Flats (entry from Mansfield Street) at 2.30pm tomorrow, Saturday 30 August.

ENDS


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