Randwick Park named NZ's Community of the Year
Focusing on the positives has helped a south Auckland suburb claim the title of the best community in New Zealand.
Randwick Park has been named New Zealand Community of the Year, honouring the suburb's transformation over the past eight years.
Residents' association chairwoman Maree Beaven and secretary Denise Tims have been helping re-shape the area's image after a fatal shooting of a liquor store owner in 2008.
The Manurewa Local Board has invested several million dollars into re-developing Randwick Park's Riverton Reserve, behind the liquor store, over the years.
It now has an extensive purpose-built sporting centre, as well as rugby fields, a tennis court and skate park.
"It triggered the change. People stood up and said they don't want this to be our image, it's not who we really are," Beaven says.
"It's had the label as being tough and rough and had a lot of negative assumptions with it," Tims says.
"We wanted to flip that and give this area a reason to celebrate. It's gone through a number of years of transformation."
The Community of the Year award recognises teamwork and was presented at the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards in February.
Beaven says just finding out the community made it to the top three finalists was exciting, as well as winning the glass trophy.
"I took the trophy to Randwick Park Primary School and the whole school broke out into a haka. It was so epic, I burst into tears," Beaven says.
"To be there was amazing and just to be in the top three was incredible . . . I still think we're an amazing community without the acknowledgement," Tims says.
Beaven has been living in Randwick Park for 14 years and Tims for seven, and they credit the partnerships they've built with trusts and organisations for the area's success.
"The reality is, this is not always glamorous work. It's hard work but there are times for celebrating to keep you going. We're winning," Beaven says.
"We didn't go into this saying let's fix things but how can we make it better. They're actually very different questions."
Tims and Beaven say they haven't reached an end goal for Randwick Park yet.
They say they are focusing on developing social enterprise opportunities to help locals get into work as well as helping other communities achieve their goals.