Taita charity trust shuts its doors after 10 years

Great Start Taita volunteer Stephen Tse serves up lunch at the Naenae Koha Kitchen. The kitchen provided meals to the ...

Great Start Taita volunteer Stephen Tse serves up lunch at the Naenae Koha Kitchen. The kitchen provided meals to the local community for a koha donation.

Funding difficulties have forced Great Start Taita to close after a decade of service.

Manager Marina Pouesi said staff were in a sombre mood after being told last Monday the charitable trust would close.

She said Great Start had been struggling to find funding and had no choice but to cease operations last Friday.

"Funding is always a bit of an issue, especially for smaller groups [like us]. It was hard to find funding in this climate because there are so many of us applying for it."

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People had been dropping by the house on Eastern Hutt Rd all week to express their disappointment over the closure.

Great Start began as a Barnardos early years initiative in 2007 before becoming a charitable trust in 2013.

The trust helped run and fund a variety of free and low cost programmes such as playgroups, a toy library, the curtain bank, fruit and vegetable co-op, Naenae Koha Kitchen and the Koha Cafe.

Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins said the closure was disappointing as Great Start provided a lot of valuable services to the Taita Community.

He said the closure could be an opportunity for other local service providers to expand and keep some of the programmes running. 

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"I hope there will be a way those services can be picked up by someone else because they are highly valued by the local community."

Pouesi said the playgroups and Koha Cafe would likely continue to operate and was hopeful other programmes would also continue.

She said community members and volunteers had already expressed interest in taking over some of the programmes.

She said the support shown for Great Start following the news last Monday had been great and it was a testament to the spirit of the community.

"Great Start wouldn't have survived without the people. The people are the most important part."

Pouesi said Great Start's Facebook page would remain active after the closure so people could stay up to date with news regarding the various programmes.

 - Hutt News

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