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High hopes for Greys Ave garden

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014
Servolution
COMING TOGETHER: Servolution volunteers hand out care packages at last year’s 1 2Know event in Greys Ave.
family event
GIVING BACK: The Greys Ave neighbourhood held a family event last year where the idea for a community garden was born.

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Green-thumbed residents from both sides of Greys Ave are collaborating on a community garden and hope it will show people that they're "not all bad eggs".

Tenants in the the street's notorious state housing block spoke to the Auckland City Harbour News in March. One said her front door was smashed in by a gang member - others described people vomiting and urinating on their doorsteps.

Auckland City Police have boosted efforts to address safety concerns in the area.

Residents hope the vegetable plot will mark the start of a new, positive era for the neighbourhood which has been plagued by crime and a bad reputation for many years.

Will 'Ilolahia has lived in Greys Ave for five years.

He is a member of the Waiata Artist Trust which will become custodian of the garden if it is approved.

The area will be maintained by the trust in partnership with Greys Ave residents.

He says the street's population covers the full spectrum - from the homeless to those who live in expensive apartments. They all want to create a better life for everyone on Greys Ave, he says.

Residents hope Housing NZ and the council will come to the table on the proposed community garden, which would be located behind the state housing block.

'Ilolahia says the vegetable garden will provide an affordable alternative for low-income residents.

Many residents "don't know each other despite living on top of each other" and he hopes the garden will help people bond and develop a better understanding of some of the social and political issues they face.

The trust held the first 1 2Know community event on Greys Ave last year. It was a family fun day where volunteers from Christian group Servolution handed out food and clothing care packages to residents. Live music was performed and there was a play area for children.

A survey of 89 residents who attended found 62 per cent were keen for a community garden, 'Ilolahia says.

The proposed location for the garden is a heritage site, a council spokesperson says.

'Ilolahia says this means the garden will be restricted to planter boxes. But that's OK, he says.

The trust teaches inner-city dwellers how to create their own balcony gardens using minimal space.

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Housing NZ has requested approval for the garden from council's heritage team and it is now pending review.

Regional manager for central Auckland Neil Adams says the agency is working to progress the Greys Ave project as soon as possible.

The second 1 2Know event is being held this Saturday for Greys Ave residents.

- Auckland City Harbour News

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