Freeland Reserve: protecting the protector

02 Nov 2023
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It was built to keep their community safe. Now, a new generation of guardians have stepped forward to make sure Freeland Reserve gets some protection of its own.

The Roskill South reserve and its awa, Te Auaunga, was regenerated to better manage stormwater and protect nearby homes from flooding. In January, the upgrade proved its worth when heavy rain brought flooding to much of Auckland but the reserve kept water from reaching nearby homes.

Through environmental workshops led by the school and team members from Kāinga Ora, May Road School children learned about their maunga, awa and whenua. Inspired by the new-found sense of belonging and ownership of their motu, pupils and teachers formed the Mana Whenua – Environmental Group and have taken on the role of its guardians.

“This is the ultimate outcome,” says Karla Beazley, Kāinga Ora Community Development and Engagement Coordinator.

“May Road School and its students have always kept a keen eye on the project, and a protection group had always been our biggest goal – to empower people to take care of their community’s new amenity and features.”

The team, along with teachers and parents, have been regularly heading out on clean-up days and learning about the area and its history. Kāinga Ora staff and other community partners have also pitched in, with Karla and other locals cooking a free community dinner for about 100 residents after their most recent clean-up day.

The new guardians’ roles were also made official recently as they joined Auckland Council’s Adopt a Park school programme.

“The school and students have always wanted to be guardians of their newly-restored awa,” Karla says.

“They’ve done previous stream cleans and other related projects, and Roskill Development staff supported the school at clean-ups and plantings before connecting them with our partners at Auckland Council, and we continue to be a part of the collaboration.”

“The community are finding their voices and putting their hands up to support and advocate for their community, and we couldn’t have asked for a better result.”

Images supplied by May Road School

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