Te Puna Oranga
Te Puna Oranga (“The Spring of Life”) is the name given to the new community garden and makerspace at ME Family Services, by local kaitiaki Pania Newton (Save Our Unique Landscape). She felt the name reflected the wairua of the space and its role in bringing to life the hopes and aspirations ME Family Services has for our community: a thriving, regenerative ecosystem where everyone and everything has value.
The space has come to life over the past year and a half, beginning with lots of storytelling as we remembered how this land has come into being and evolved over time. From a swamp, to farmland, to the muddy end of a school field in the middle of the suburbs; we wanted to capture the essence of the space and find out what its unique contribution could be to this community.
Using the metaphor of the swamp, we saw that the space had a role to play in capturing the “waste” from our neighbourhood and finding the value in it, turning it into something precious. Over the course of 2018, we started to develop the space, in partnership with MAU Studio, and with the help of local schools (Mangere East Primary, De La Salle College, ME Family Services ECE), locally-based tertiary students (UNITEC architecture school) and local time-traders (especially Papa Tom Wichman and Mona Nimmo).
The entire site is constructed from local neighbourhood “waste”- tyres for garden beds, a shipping container for our makerspace, pallets for our deck and garden shed, an old chicken coop for our seedling house, old bed heads for plant supports. The garden is maintained and developed by our Regenerative Practitioner Koia Teinakore, alongside many fabulous local time-traders.
Since our official opening in November 2018, Te Puna Oranga has already received lots of visitors. From MPs, Local Board members, and staff from various Council departments, District Health Boards, Housing New Zealand, as well as local schools and neighbours- Te Puna Oranga seems to offer the kind of space every community is desperately in need of- somewhere people can go to feel valued, make a contribution, reconnect with their cultural roots, share knowledge about growing food and eating well, and re-think how we create and deal with “rubbish”.
It can provide a doorway in to the wrap-around support offered by ME Family Services; social work support, Early Childhood Education, driver licensing, Recovery Room and micro-business support. And most importantly it can connect people to themselves and to their local community. Te Puna Oranga is open Monday to Friday, 9-3 if you’d like to drop in and visit us. Or you can contact us to find out more (firstname.lastname@example.org, 0221028195).