We have an opportunity not to be missed. It’s an opportunity that I suspect will be the single coolest and possibly the most important project that I can get behind during my term on the Local Board. It’s a project that will meet the many varied needs of different parts of the community; it will bring people together, it will enable collaboration, it will change the way we use Takapuna Town Centre. It’s a new Library and Community hub for Takapuna.
The Takapuna Library and Council service buildings have been under review. A large collection of buildings sit behind Massimo on the Strand, and many of them, you wouldn't even know exist. Part of Council's job is to assess the state of all Council facilities and see if they're still meeting the changing needs of the community in their current form and in their operation. Included in this service assessment are the Takapuna Library, the Mary Thomas Centre behind the library, and the array of council offices and halls tucked in behind the library that house Plunket, Citizens’ Advice Bureau and the Takapuna War Memorial Hall (as well as an array of empty offices and other small organisations).
You’ll be forgiven if you don’t know much about the Mary Thomas Centre or the Takapuna Community Services Building beside the library. They’re obscure and out of the way. They’re degraded buildings, leaking and old and offer some significant barriers to those who use them; such as access, visibility, and poor design. But yet, the things that happen inside those buildings are incredibly important to our community and with those barriers removed, I suspect more people would want to make use of them.
The library (where I ironically sit right now typing) is far more than a library, it’s a place for people to connect, where chess matches are won, where history is researched, where intergenerational dialogue takes place. Rhymetimes, book talks, chess games, and harpsichord concerts; these are all activities that I’ve observed in the last two days of using this facility. In the Positive Ageing Centre the Older Women’s Network host their annual celebrations and the Senior Citizens come together to make friends and do what Senior Citz do. Our Citizen’s Advice Bureau continues to perform an essential service for people in need of guidance, and Plunket too plays an important role supporting new parents. Inside the Mary Thomas Centre our Takapuna North Community Trust operates, an organisation that supports and connects community through events, activations and ecological restoration. So too do the Auckland North Community & Development group who support not-for-profits with accounting, are incubators of innovation, and work towards minimising family violence on the Shore. These groups host multiple community meetings, and if it weren’t for the wet and mouldy smell and the tink-tink-sound of water dripping from the light fittings into the pot in the middle of the room, the lack of access and poor visibility, I'm sure the tenants would be very happy to stay.
Imagine if we could provide all these groups and all users of these services a beautifully designed, inspiring, and versatile premises in the heart of Takapuna where the new town centre will be, with good access to nearby bus stops, and a short walk from the new car park building? Luckily for us this very opportunity is here for the taking.
A couple of weeks ago we got to walk through Te Manawa, which is a new community hub, designed by Warren Mahoney in Westgate. It’s Auckland’s first fully integrated community facility incorporating community venues, a commercial kitchen for hire, library and Council services. There’s not much you can’t do at Te Manawa and when we were there, we saw loads and loads of people using the stunning building in a range of ways. At Te Manawa you can grab the bookable needles and thread and make use of the sewing machine in a maker’s space. You can 3D print anything you design. You can join in with all the kids activities, or find the quiet puzzle corner and complete your puzzles. You can work in the silent computer rooms, or book a collaboration space. There are two sound engineering rooms where you can produce your own music. There’s a roof-top terrace for events with great views, a massive hall for hire that can be divided in half for smaller groups or bookable quiet spaces. There’s a Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Council offices. There’re kitchenettes so you can heat up your lunch, and stay the day. There’s not much that can’t be achieved at Te Manawa and it sits beautifully in the middle of a vibrant and growing town centre – right in the place where people are, where space is plentiful and the experience is joyful. Te Manawa is a core community destination, and guess what? We can do the same in Takapuna.
By selling the existing facilities and using the funds, we’re able to deliver a benchmark civic building in Takapuna. One that is multi-functional, purposeful, modern and stylish. Very soon Takapuna is not going to be the same place that you see today. As more sites are snapped up by developers and the centre begins to grow up, we’re going to have a whole new set of people living in the area and loving the beachside-city-vibe lifestyle our Metropolitan Centre will offer.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds pretty dreamy, and best of all it's within reach. So keep your ear out for more developments, because all going well, good things are coming.
Elected member of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board for the 2019-2022 Election Term.