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New city garden designed to bring people together

A new garden being built at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Hastings is complete, providing an oasis from the surrounding city streets as well as a place of community connection.

The development was a partnership between Hastings District Council and St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, the aim being to create a shared public space to be enjoyed by all.

The idea arose in May last year when the church submitted to the council’s Annual Plan, and the council agreed to contribute $15,000 towards the cost of the project – the remainder fundraised by the church community.

For more than 60 years Cook Islands Māori have worshipped at the church and the community wanted the garden on the corner of Market St and Lyndon Rd West to reflect this.

In requesting the funding, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Minister Reverend Jill McDonald said the plan was for the centrepiece of the garden to be a seat in the shape of a vaka (waka) to symbolise journeying.

The shade sail above the seat has been decorated with Cook Islands Tivaivai motifs echoing the traditional embroidery handcraft of Cook Islands women, and tropical plants hearken back to the flora of the Pacific.

The garden area was officially opened and blessed last weekend, and Rev. McDonald said it was a “beautiful acknowledgement of the Cook Islands community, our Scottish heritage as Presbyterians, and Ngāti Kahungunu.”

This included drumming, singing and dance from the Cook Islands culture group, as well as bagpipes and waiata.

“This garden is all about hospitality and being a space to share with others.

“It’s about connecting and developing social cohesion and we are seeing that happening right from the outset.”

Currently a high pedestrian traffic area with people cutting in front of the church every day, it is hoped that this garden will provide a place for people to sit and enjoy and come together in the Hastings city centre.


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