New face takes the helm at trust
Michelle Neho has big plans for Pikorua.
The Smiths Ave resident was elected last week as the new community co-ordinator for the Pikorua Trust, which runs the Pikorua Community House on her street.
The house serves a block of 13 streets between Marne Rd and Hunua Rd, a low socio-economic area which had a high incidence of crime when the Awhi Wraparound project - Pikorua's predecessor - started in 2008.
Ms Neho has a social work background and spent years working in Melbourne for Victoria's Department of Human Services.
That includes work as a supervisor for residential units and for DHS Secure Welfare, which looks after at-risk young people, so she's "seen a lot and heard a lot", she says.
But after three years living on Smiths Ave Ms Neho, who is a committed Christian, has only good things to say.
"Here at Pikorua, I see the innocence is still there and the potential of each and every one of them. I want to nurture that and create positive opportunities.
"If we do that, the parents of this community will see we aren't self-serving and they will come here and get more involved. We want to see it grow but we want the community to have ownership of it as well."
She says there are "a lot of people we haven't identified yet" in the community who have plenty to offer, as well as a great executive team that has her back.
Ms Neho has big dreams for the house's future including a community vegetable garden, homework club and disco nights.
A kids tae kwon do club has just started up on Monday and Friday afternoons.
She also wants to see the nearby netball courts up and running again.
"We really need to utilise it more and do what we can to uplift the profile of this place," she says.
The Pikorua Trust, which runs the house, had a shake-up at its annual general meeting in September and several new roles were created to ensure governance was properly handled.
Ms Neho was "the obvious person" for the role, chairwoman Charlotte Te Pou says.
"From the day she started as secretary in August, she's been going flat-out. She's been the driving force behind everything happening now."
She pushes the rest of the team to work harder and wants them to get training to ensure the house is well run, Ms Te Pou says.
Ms Neho replaces former chairwoman Connie Raiwhara, who co-ordinated the house for four years.
Ms Raiwhara says she left because of a "conflict of interest" with the new board of trustees but she still wants them to succeed.
"I wish them the best of luck and I hope we can work together."
Ms Raiwhara is now working on a new group at the nearby Mansell Senior School.
Having the two organisations close together will benefit the community, she says.
"It just means they'll have two places to go instead of one."