News | 2 May 2022
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A new community space in the central city

Our new community centre, Te Pokapū Hapori, will be a welcoming and inclusive hub for inner-city residents to gather, connect, and enjoy activities in a space designed to enhance a sense of belonging in the central city.

Te Pokapū Hapori exterior with Pastor Joe Serevi outside
Te Pokapū Hapori with Pastor Joe Serevi

A community centre in the heart of the city is a first for Wellington. We have community spaces in just about every suburb, and they get high usage, but we didn’t have anything fit for purpose in the city. 

With a growing inner-city neighbourhood of over 17,000 people, there was a real need for more common space. Studies from other cities around the world all come to the same conclusion – common spaces are key to building and sustaining social networks and as a result creating more resilient, better-connected neighbourhoods. 

And so, we set to it. But we couldn’t do it alone. In March we announced we were bringing The YMCA Central (The Y) on board to manage the new community centre. The Y have decades of experience running similar spaces with the vision to build strong kids, families and communities.  

CEO of The Y, Brendan Owens, is stoked that the centre doors are now open and is pleased to be working in partnership with the Council to create something special for the inner-city neighbourhood.  

“We want to create a space where people can belong, connect and find the support they need. For some, Te Pokapū Hapori could be their ‘extended living room’, for others their ‘third place’ outside of work and home. Throughout the day, people can access the hub and participate in a range of ongoing activations.”

Te Pokapū Hapori interior with team members from The Y
Te Pokapū Hapori interior with team members from The Y

The Y will be working closely with the community over the next few weeks to develop a range of targeted programmes that will fit under the themes of ‘active’, ‘create’ and ‘life-skills’. These programmes and services will evolve with insights and feedback from the community. 

If you’d like to get involved in the programme development, you can make an enquiry with The Y or visit their website.

Along with the community centre, The Y will also manage the Youth Hub which is due to open in the city later this year. Integrating the two facilities’ outcomes together will lead to a greater range of programmes and services, bringing greater benefits to the community. 

Improving city safety and vibrancy with the Pōneke Promise

Te Pokapū Hapori and the Youth Hub are both key initiatives for the Pōneke Promise, a coordinated, community-driven partnership between local government, Police, retail, hospitality, and the social sector to make our city safer. 

The Pōneke Promise programme takes a holistic approach to improving safety and wellbeing in central Wellington, by focusing on reducing harm, improving public spaces, building business confidence, and increasing community spaces. 

The partnership approach of the Pōneke Promise is reflected at the community support base, Te Wāhi Āwhina. This space, opened in May 2021, has helped many Wellingtonians access services that meet their specific needs. 

Te Pokapū Hapori exterior with Mayor, CEO, staff and Councillors
Mayor, CEO, Y staff and Councillors outside Te Pokapū Hapori

An area with a rich history

Both Te Pokapū Hapori and Te Wāhi Āwhina are located on Manners Street, opposite Te Aro Park. The surrounding area is the former site of the Te Aro Pā, making it a place of significant importance to mana whenua and the city. Te Aro Pā was a pā and kāinga in the 1800s with cultivation fields, kaimoana, and Te Waimapihi stream all nearby.

Inside the centre, Māori artist Reweti Arapere has designed an indoor mural – He Raukura te Pā o Te Aro – which reflects the rich history of Te Aro Pā, alongside other design elements throughout the rest of the centre.

Reweti explains that the artwork pays tribute to the whenua and the waters beneath the city. 

“My focus composing this image is to reclaim the visual landscape and represent a modern idea of whakapapa and connection. This artwork aims to anchor customary imagery to the lines and shapes that echo modern architecture and the cityscape today.”

The mural has a strong presence in the centre and draws your eye through the large windows down Opera House Lane. These windows will be decorated in a bright decal, bringing the surrounding area to life. At night the laneway is lit by bright flood lighting, installed as part of the Pōneke Promise in November.

The Y will be settling into the space this week, and welcome community groups for kai and kōrero. Te Pokapū Hapori will be open to the public in mid-May.

Read more about the Pōneke Promise and what is happening across the city at