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Raetihi leads healthy change in their community

Updated: Mar 6, 2019

Like a phoenix from the ashes, the Mākōtuku Domain has a new lease on life, making room for budding athletes like 13-year-old Te Āti Haunui ā Pāpārangi descendent, William Warbrick to dream big.

"I wish I could be in the NBA, I've been dreaming that my whole life," says Warbrick.

Two years ago Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu got behind the community to revitalise their local park in what would become a groundbreaking project within the Ruapehu region.

"It's just wonderful, the other time when we had the metal part around it, it just looked terrible and it needed a fix up," adds Warbrick.

The Raetihi Community Charitable Trust was one of the main drivers of the project. Trustee Rachel Hoskin says that Raetihi is going through town revitalisation and that there is more to it than meets the eye.

"A lot of people think it's putting a lick of paint on the buildings and making everything pretty bit from my perspective it is making sure that there's economic and social revitalisation and that's really important for us and so this was one of those projects that helps towards that."

According to the latest census, more than half of Raetihi's population is Māori. A spokesperson for local sports provider #RUAfit, Erena Mikaere says that the new and improved Mākōtuku Domain is getting whānau out, and active.

"It's given the community a real lift over in Raetihi. You know, our Raetihi community are one of our strongest communities so it's a really great facility now for them to get out there. You used to see whānau out there or kids out there and now you see three generations of whānau out there. I think it's had an amazing transformation."

Tamariki enjoy their new water fountain.

The project is prompting calls for local councils throughout the Whanganui, Rangitīkei Ruapehu region to seek community input to co-design public spaces.

Hoskin says, "The role that Troy played in terms of his Healthy Families (Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu) role was huge. The design thinking process that he used is the process that we need to go through for town and community revitalisation because it all starts with the end user."

The Ruapehu District Council supports the concept. Councillor Viv Hoeta says, "The idea around that was council take a step back and instead of being in a directors role and directing how our community should be involved in themselves. The park is just one step of showing our people, hey look, if we all work together, look what our kids have."

Although the community weren't initially convinced that anything would eventuate, phase 1 of the project is complete and the proof is in the park. Raetihi's now inspired to lead change in other areas, with phase 2 of the Mākōtuku revitalisation project at the top of the list.

Community Engagement Design Thinking Infographic:

Case Study Video:


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