Our Wellington

News | 21 June 2021

Te Wāhi Āwhina a pillar for the community

Since opening, more than 30 service providers and organisations have been engaged with, or based in, Te Wāhi Āwhina to provide information or services including housing, food and welfare provisions.

Te Wāhi Āwhina Police blessing and opening

Te Wāhi Āwhina, a community support space in Manners Street, officially opened Tuesday 11 May as part of Wellington City Council’s commitment to The Pōneke Promise – a joint social contract launched in April with Greater Wellington Regional Council, the City’s hospitality industry, retailers, and Police.

Just over a month on it’s already making a difference in the area says Mayor Andy Foster.

“The city’s vulnerable communities now have easier access to agencies, and agencies have an accessible site to better provide their services to those who need it most – and offer support to local businesses and retailers when required. 

“Te Wāhi Āwhina is used during the day and night as a base to help keep our city and our people safe. Some of the organisations and groups include Māori Wardens, Pasifika Patrollers, WINZ, Hāpai Ake, NZ Police, Age Concern, Community Law, City Mission, Local Hosts, Salvation Army and Council staff. All the partners and prospective partner organisations. 

“There have been many success stories from the on-site team already, including Anna who had recently featured in media as rough sleeping in a bus stop, who came in for a cup of tea – and ended up getting housed after a chat with the Salvation Army’s Pastor Joe.”

Image of Anna and Pastor Joe at Te Wāhi Āwhina
Anna and Pastor Joe

Pastor Joe Serevi says this demonstrates how important it is to have a central space for outreach groups to interact with people and provide the services visitors need.

“There has been an increased demand on all our services since COVID happened, so we have been wanting to develop more of a presence in the city, and this site is a good way to do it.

“It’s great to have a space for all to link up and work together, for people in the community to drop-in, get information or to have them referred for services – and most importantly, to feel comfortable there.”

This is just a small sample of the amazing mahi being carried out by the team at Te Wāhi Āwhina, with positive feedback coming in from across the spectrum, says Councillor Tamatha Paul. 

“There has already been some constructive action around infrastructure like better lighting, funding for groups supporting the vulnerable, plus collaboration with local businesses and residents. Now there’s a safe, shared place for experts, advisors, support groups and all members of our community to korero and receive āwhina (support).

“Our vision is ‘Te Oranga mā te Katoa – Wellbeing for All’, and this is a big step in the right direction, but there’s lots more good mahi to come.”