After a significant make-over, Plunket’s Manurewa Family Centre re-opens today to provide a welcoming, warm space for local families and whānau.
Renamed Poutokomanawa, the centre aims to provide a safe place where whānau can relax and meet other parents, attend Plunket clinics and ask questions about the health or wellbeing of their family.
About 60 people attended the re-opening, including Plunket Chief Executive Amanda Malu. “What Plunket has achieved here in Manurewa is part of our wider strategy to engage and work more closely with communities and to better meet their specific needs in ways and times that suit them,” Ms Malu says.
“This means Plunket is adapting, collaborating and innovating, so it is better positioned to make the difference of a lifetime in the first 1000 days of the lives of all children and tamariki, no matter where they live.
“It is really evident here that we have placed the needs of whānau at the very centre of what we have done. I am really heartened by that.”
Project leader and Plunket Community Development Manager Clare Green says the project began in 2017 and involved Plunket working in partnership with Auckland Council’s The Southern Initiative and local whānau, who have given considerable input.
“We wanted to make sure local whānau engaged with us and told us what they needed in our centre. We’re really pleased with the result and the input whānau gave. We do hope they will feel welcome and find the centre a respite from some of the challenges many face in our community.”
Poutokomanawa, which means the heart pole at the centre of the whānau, has a new community kitchen, large deck and entrance ramp, a revamped interior layout and will soon have a new playground. Local whānau have also created a large interior mural.
It has been a significant investment by Plunket with the support of some key funders – the NZCT (New Zealand Community Trust) and the Ted Manson Foundation, which funded the kitchen and playground.
Mr Manson says he wanted to support Plunket’s work in Manurewa as he became familiar with the community’s complexities and challenges while doing research with Police and other community services.
“I know it takes a village to raise a child and that for this to happen you need a hub for the village – what Plunket is aiming to create here is that hub. I think it’s going to be a special place for families in South Auckland and am proud to be associated with it,” he says.
The Southern Initiative’s Social Intrapreneur Angie Tangaere says Plunket was courageous in choosing a whānau-led design process for the centre, placing family and community at the centre of the process.
Ms Tangaere says the project has revealed that lots of parenting takes place outside the home in Manurewa creating an opportunity for both Council and Plunket to do more to support these families with the facilities they have available.
Local families, whānau and tamariki are welcome at Poutokomanawa anytime during normal business hours.
See the video about Poutokomanawa’s re-design process.