Here are some of the amazing stories from our community and others around the country working on projects in partnership with Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). Whether here in Waitara or elsewhere in Aotearoa, these projects share five community-led development principles to shape their journeys through their stories.

  • shared local visions or goals drive action and change
  • use existing strengths and assets
  • many people and groups working together
  • building diverse and collaborative local leadership
  • adaptable planning and action informed by outcomes

Murals bring recognition to Waitara,

By Catherine Groenestein

Taranaki Daily News 11:54, Sep 02 2020

Colourful murals have earned a North Taranaki community group a chance for national recognition.

Beautify Waitara has been selected as a finalist in Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s annual awards, which will be announced on October 29.

They are among three finalists in the community group category, which honours a not-for-profit organisation that contributes to enhancing the environmental and social aspects of their region and shows a strong sense of community spirit.

“To be recognised is quite exciting,” Mike Kettle, from Beautify Waitara, said.“We’re a little local community in Taranaki with our heads down, trying to do something.”

The group aims to bring public spaces alive through art, bringing professional artists to work with creative young people to mentor them. “It’s showing them there is a career path that can be made in art,” he said. The group started with a plan to transform five blank walls in key public spaces in Waitara.

“It’s all focused around the environment. We are recognising the efforts going in around the community, and trying to tell some stories about the Waitara community and our culture,” he said.

Since December 2019, two murals have been completed. Waitara High School student Channtae​ Lichtwark, 17, is painting the third mural she designed on a wall opposite the school, with help from other students.

It is the first mural she has designed, but it won’t be the last, she said. She was inspired to take her art further after helping paint one of the other murals.

“I never knew I’d have the chance to do something like that,” she said. “It’s really cool.”

The wall for a fourth piece, a mural telling the local iwi story of Waitara, is being prepared by students and work will begin in the October school holidays.

Work on the fifth will start in November, repainting a 30-year-old mural that was designed by a Manukorihi Intermediate School student who is now a teacher at the school.

Student photographer Xavier Martin has been documenting the murals to share through social media and help promote Waitara as a tourist destination.

When Art Becomes Life – Meet Michael “Monty” Montgomerie

The first Beautify Waitara mural currently underway on Waitara North Community House is being created by award winning Waitara born artist Michael (“Monty”) Montgomerie.

Monty grew up in Waitara, has travelled the world and won awards for his art and design work. For Monty, art really has become life and life has become art, with an extensive career spanning New Zealand, USA, UK, Dubai and Australia.

A former student of Waitara Central and Waitara High Schools, after getting his UE and a stint at the local freezing works, Monty went on to do a graphic design course in Auckland. Later after completing a three-year graphic design course at WITT, he applied to Teachers’ College and trained as an Art, Design and Technology teacher.

Keen to see the world and develop his design skills, Monty headed to the USA and got work creating murals there, then to London to teach, then Dubai as head of art at an international college. After several years there he shifted to the Gold Coast, where he now teaches at South Port State High School, working with students with diverse needs. Monty also runs his own business painting customised Harley Davidson motorcycles, working on railway arts projects. He has also worked with Australian indigenous communities.

Back in Waitara for the project Monty is now sharing his knowledge and skills with local rangatahi. Two local youth Cavan and Channtae, interested to pursue their own art related careers, have been given the opportunity to help and learn during the mural project.

Monty shows what is possible with courage, commitment and opportunities. “You don’t  have to be super good at art to begin with, but you have to work hard and have good ideas” said Monty. “Drawing is the key to all of it, you can never practice enough”.

Monty is inspirational. We can’t wait to see his work energise our community!

Local efforts bringing community bike fitness to Waitara!

How awesome will it be to have a community bike fitness track on the way in Waitara! Open to everyone, all ages and abilities, with jumps and ramps, wheelchair access, bike clinics, riding and skating events, picnic tables and eventually fitness equipment for all.

The dream is not far away thanks to the efforts of like-minded Waitara locals who have worked together over the past year to explore ideas and gain support. Waitara East school, students, parents, the wider community, businesses, the council, Sport Taranaki, funders and other stakeholders have all been involved. After months of effort the group has gained enough support and resources to go ahead.

“We’re all so excited! We’ve got massive plans for the kids. This initiative is for everyone. We want all Waitara whanau to be a part of it,” said De Welch, spokesperson for the group. The facility will be located at the rear of Waitara East School with community access.

Construction will start in January and all going well the track will open by mid- February, but that is just the start. Once open locals are invited to use the facility often, get involved in supporting it and organising activities.

“It is such a great example of local ideas, energy and commitment coming together to support community wellbeing,” said Dave Haskell, Co-ordinator for Te Ara Whakamua.

Funding has come from Methanex, Sport Taranaki and New Plymouth District Council, along with $63,340 recently confirmed via DIA’s Community Led Development programme. Te Ara Whakamua assisted the group with planning and helped to facilitate DIA funding. To find out more visit our Facebook Page. Click on the link below to find out about more about this and another community-Led Project underway in Waitara:

Click on the Story tabs at the top of this page to find out more about what is happening around the country and learn about the Te Ara Whakamua Journey.

As part of our collaboration with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) we can look at the work/ mahi of other Community Led Development (CLD) pilot groups around the country, to get inspired and to learn from their successes and challenges.

Every community is different and has its own unique character, Waitara included!

So while what works in one community may not necessarily work in another, there will be wisdom we can learn from.  Not surprisingly, what other projects have found around the country is that the activities and programmes with the greatest degree of community ownership and leadership are the most successful!. Ko ngā kaupapa kua takoto mai I te hāpori arataki ka ū ka anga ki mua.

Here are some wonderful examples of other Community Led Development Projects from other parts of Aotearoa.

The Valley Project – North East Valley, Dunedin
With the “Valley Project” in North East Valley Dunedin the focus was on people connecting with each other and nature. Activities developed and led by the community as part the project included: Community Gardens, Community Work Space, Supportive Education Sectors, Community Dinners, Kaitiaki/Guardianship of the Land, Food Share Programs and even creating Cozier Homes. Take a look at this great video to get inspired about what might be possible in Waitara via Te Ara Whakamua o Whaitara!

Whirinaki, a rural Māori community in the Far North

The tupuna of Whirinaki had long talked about improving their environment and restoring the culture for their hapū. The awa (river) had been neglected. It was clogged up. It flooded regularly. Livestock using the river had made it dirty. Other life in the river was dying. The vision for the future did not need to be written down to be the deeply-held, shared commitment for the people – focus on restoring the awa and the rest will follow.

The Department of Internal Affairs worked with the Whirinaki community to support them to develop a pathway plan of what they wanted to achieve and how they would measure their progress. They also worked with them so that the community could work out what went well and why, as well as what didn’t go so well and why and what could they do differently next time. They were prepared to change how they planned to do things as they went, while still getting to where they wanted to be.

Watch their video below to find out more about their projects and the highlights of their journey.

Te Ara Whakamua was established in response to a series of community hui about the aspirational potential and shared future of the Waitara community. As part of this partnership, the Waitara community helped to identify skills, qualities and behaviours they wanted to see role modelled in a leadership group moving forward.

12 nominees and over 70 attendees participated in forums in 2018, resulting in seven original community members of varying backgrounds and experiences being selected in a community led nomination process. They then established the Leadership Group (TAWoW), signing a partnership agreement with the DIA. See below image for original group.

An early focus of the group was to gather information and perspectives from a diverse cross-section of residents in order to develop the TAWoW Community Plan. The purpose of this plan is to create a framework for collaboration and evidence based activities that ultimately help to meet the communities’ vision for Te Ara Whakamua.

This is Community Led Development in its simplest form. It is a process of working together to create and achieve community owned goals.

Since the original Leadership Group was formed several members have moved on with new members taking up the challenge. The journey so far has been full of learning as our Leadership Group and community develop understanding about how to apply a Community Led approach to achieving the aspirations in the Community Plan.

Over 2019 the momentum has been building, with the first TAWoW supported project to successfully achieve DIA funding. There are now plans being developed for 2020 which will see community training, networking and knowledge sharing events taking place.