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Spruce up transforms park

JESS LEE
Last updated 05:00 19/04/2014
Nigel Turnbull and Ella Kumar
Jess Lee
FRESH START: Puketapapa Local Board members Nigel Turnbull and Ella Kumar by the new murals at the Mt Roskill War Memorial Park.

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A park which used to house gangs is now a safe haven for the community.

And the success of the Mt Roskill War Memorial Park's transformation has prompted the Puketapapa Local Board to ask if there are more places in need of a spruce up.

"If people have ideas about places they don't feel safe and they'd like to see changes or a place that isn't looking too flash that needs a makeover, we want to hear from them," board member Nigel Turnbull says. "We need to improve these spaces."

Two anti-graffiti murals have just been completed on the side of the building which houses the Roskill Youth Zone recreation centre and the Owairaka Athletics Club.

An ongoing commitment to maintaining and developing the park is crucial to ensure youth gang activity doesn't re-emerge, Turnbull says.

"This park used to be a shocker. It had a really bad rap in the mid-2000s up until a couple of years ago," he says.

"What we're trying to encourage is that people feel safe and are safe down here and that there's the right mix of activities, programmes and facilities for our community."

Construction of the recreation centre, trimming back vegetation in the park and the work of the There's a Better Way youth programme have all helped to counter the area's gang culture.

The facilities and programmes encourage young people to engage in "pro-social activities", Turnbull says.

Owairaka Athletics Club president Sydney Morrow says the park is a real asset to the community.

The new murals, depicting some of New Zealand athletics' greatest achievements, reflect the club's and suburb's proud history, he says.

The resurfacing of the park's Lovelock Track is due to be completed later this year and Morrow hopes this will help attract more young runners to the club.

"The murals are a good reminder of what young people can achieve.

"The development of the track and the wider park is certainly very positive for our future."

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