155 Community House
When three young Maori teenagers were suspended from high school in Whangarei several years ago they started hanging around at One Double Five Whare Roopu Community House (so named because it is at 155 Kamo Road).
Youth worker Rod Nathan says eventually the staff at One Double Five asked the boys what they really wanted to do, and they replied that they wanted to pass school certificate.
"We told them that if they would put together a programme, we would help them carry it out. They went away and with the help of their whanau they put together a kaupapa and course of study. So we found them teachers," Rod says.The three students eventually passed their exams. One now works as a supervisor in his father's construction business, another has a scholarship to attend the University of Hawaii, and the third makes his living as an artist. The school they helped launched is now NZQA accredited and has 15 full-time students and three staff.
One Double Five began 10 years ago with support from Methodist Mission Northern and St John's and Raumanga Church (which is next door at 149 Kamo Road). It is still receives funds from these two sources as well as others, and has been formed into a charitable trust. Three of the trustees come from the Mission and St. John's, and Rev Bob Te Whaiti is the current chairperson.
As a small community centre amidst low- and middle-income neighbourhoods One Double Five's aim is to enhance the skills of people with little access to resources and help them to meet their own individual and collective needs.
Rod and One Double Five coordinator Carol Peters say the example of the school case illustrates the community centre's whanau model of development. Maori teaching methods are used, some Maori subjects are taught, and people are encouraged to identify and meet their own needs and strengths.
"This is a drop in place for adults, teenagers, and families where they can have a cup of tea, share a meal, and talk about their difficulties and dreams. We help people connect with others. One of our core business activities is to sit around and chew the fat because out to the chaos comes new ideas. Some are harebrained but others take on a life of their own," Carol says.
Among the services One Double Five offers are legal advice, counselling, and advocacy. The centre runs a home maintenance project that provides employment for volunteers and low-cost maintenance and assistance to beneficiaries and the elderly.
In addition to secondary school education One Double Five offers adult courses in such subjects as the road code, car maintenance, cooking, and te reo. It has also helped a number of marae in Whangarei and outlying rural communities apply for development funds.
A new and ambitious project One Double Five is co-ordinating is a community-owned primary health care centre in the suburb of Otangarei. Located at the Otangarei marae, it now has offers a weekly adult dental clinic and a fortnightly rongoa Maori clinic. A group of GP doctors will soon begin to provide medical services.
And if all this is not enough, a proposed new project is to take over a garden and greenhouse complex from CCS and run it as a training and employment programme focused on organic gardening.