Importance of community connection

Published on 26 April 2021

Photo of Mayor, Sheryl Mai.

Yesterday hundreds of thousands of Kiwis around New Zealand woke in the dark to join Anzac Day commemoration ceremonies. As I made my way up Hannah Street from the new Returned and Services Association (RSA) premises towards the Whangārei District War Memorial, I was surrounded by friends, colleagues, RSA members, cadets, school children, scouts, cubs and many other members of the public.

We are so lucky in New Zealand to be able to gather together for moments such as this, while so many around the world are still in lockdown – as we were this time last year. Community gatherings offer support and solidarity, while also reinforcing the very connections that make us a community. 

Anzac Day has always held a great significance, and it was heart-warming to be part of the large turnout at dawn yesterday. To see so many children involved in the proceedings, standing side-by-side with their parents and grandparents, learning about our shared history in one of the most powerful ways possible. A big thank you to the Returned and Services Association (RSA) for coordinating yet another poignant dawn parade and ceremony.

We’re well into the school holidays now, and I know that many of you are busy juggling work commitments with your children’s needs. To help, our Central Library team has organised free school holiday sessions, and I was lucky enough to attend the very first one on Tuesday last week.

Whangarei District Libraries website

The theme these holidays is ‘construction’, and I was given the important role of official ribbon-cutter at the grand opening. More than 80 children and parents gathered in the Library, where I was a surprise guest (although being in high-vis made me hard to hide), with a mystery object in the courtyard that turned out to be a little digger for the kids to take turns sitting in.

Best of all, participants were given the chance to walk through a secret door in the construction fencing of the new Civic Centre Project next door. The kids (and their parents) were shown the site of our new civic building first-hand, where they asked questions and saw for themselves the progress being made.

This was a great opportunity for answering questions such as ‘will there be a theatre onsite?’ (no, it’s a building to bring all Council staff and services under one roof) and ‘what will happen with the Forum North offices when Council moves out?’ (great question - we’re still looking at options for this).

Civic Centre

As we get closer to a visible structure going up onsite, I’m sure there will be more questions about what this building will be used for, what it will look like, and what a ‘civic hub’ is. To help answer these questions, Council staff will be setting up an information display in the Central Library showing designs and landscaping plans, along with answers to many of the most frequently asked questions. 

It may be a couple of weeks until that display is up, however until then you can peer through the peep holes in the fence to see what’s happening or ask any of our friendly Council staff for updates. Soon we’ll all be under the same roof, with easier access, better facilities, and most important of all – one central location for all our services.

Bring on 2022!

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