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Creating a place of learning, nourishment and belonging for our tamariki

Thursday, 2 Jul 2020

In the remote and small community of Taneatua, Eastern Bay of Plenty, providing sustainable food security is a real and confronting challenge of everyday life.

With no local supermarket, no public transport, families struggling to provide food and minimal job security, longtime resident Honey Thrupp – affectionately called the Heart of the Community – saw an opportunity with a spare plot of land to create a locally-led source of nourishment for Taneatua’s 786 residents.  Through the support of the community and various organisations, her vision has been brought to life.

“The purpose of the garden has always been to create a place of learning, nourishment and belonging for our tamariki,” she says.

The Hughes Place Garden Project has since become a place where whānau and friends can come together to share what they grow as well as their talents. A place to care for their young people through locally managed childcare and school holiday programmes. A place to break down stigma and silence through a guiding pathway to social services. A meeting place where no one person is excluded and where showing compassion, love and empathy is expected from one another.

Hughes Place garden project in Taneatua

A shared vision

Joining forces with neighbours, and reaching out to other members of the community, Honey connected with many people who were all happy to help. Everything from building supplies, the plot of land itself, and seedlings to start the garden off were donated in kind from local businesses and other residents. It was clear early on that others also understood the value of this project.  

The tamariki of Taneatua were invited to a workshop so they could share what they wanted for the garden, creating a sense of ownership and accountability for the young people in the process.                         

Through inclusive, shared language a covenant was drafted to set the intent and purpose of the garden, and to outline the beliefs and values that underpinned this place.                         

On the day the garden officially opened and was blessed, the tamariki of Hughes Place, stood alongside their elders, and collectively signed the covenant – using their paint-covered hands and fingertips to do so.

Building from strengths

Even in the quiet cul-de-sac of Hughes Place, Honey and her husband Tamiana found that they had a wonderful array of capability right on their doorstep. Between their immediate neighbours and others not far away, they soon had a core team with a variety of skill sets; from previous committee and financial experience to administration skills, building experience, and a native seedlings and plants specialist.

A committee was wrapped around the project to support Honey, who is very much at the heart of the garden and the community. Her husband Tamiana, an Ahorangi Minister, a Police Chaplain, and the Chairman of Waimana Marae, is also a key support. He is a man committed to sharing his knowledge and mana with his whenua.

The Thrupps’ other property – a farm at Ruatoki – quickly became an additional part of what is now called the Hughes Place Food Production Project. With the help of a project committee and other community members, it has since been able to add milk, pork and poultry to the project’s ever-growing list of enterprising assets. It is also very clearly what drives the Thrupps’ connection to Papatūānuku and fuels their manaaki.

Lessons learned

Families and individuals have always been encouraged to both give and to receive at Hughes Place Garden. In signing up to the project’s covenant, they ‘promise to care and share with one another’. The sign out front of the garden simply but powerfully states, ‘No one to be excluded’.

“Understanding your strengths, weaknesses and what talents you have around you is something you need to identify up front. Honey has always been the heart of the garden. She is what makes it tick. But as a team we all have something to contribute, to give,” says Maurice Tooke, Hughes Place Food Production Project, Chairman.

“Leadership and establishing roles and responsibilities across the group is key. Bringing together a community and building the foundations of success around that is critical in the beginning to get right. And the garden had that from the outset,” adds Andrew Iles, committee member and Taneatua Ward Councillor.

Hughes Place Garden Project was initially funded and supported by Presbyterian Support Northern, Have a Heart Foundation, PressGo – Mission Enterprise Fund, Te Aka Puaho, Rotary and The New Zealand Lotteries Commission. Moving forward, the project is now focused on sustainability so that they don’t need to rely as much on external funders.


Story courtesy of Inspiring Communities