Tahunanui building to be health service hub

GREAT SPACE: Judy Robinson, left, and Jo Lavington outside the unused building they plan to turn into a health and community centre in Muritai St, Tahunanui.
GREAT SPACE: Judy Robinson, left, and Jo Lavington outside the unused building they plan to turn into a health and community centre in Muritai St, Tahunanui.

The Tahunanui Community Centre is set to expand its services.

The Nelson City Council community services committee has decided to recommend the council support leasing an empty Muritai St building to the centre.

The land the building sits on is owned by the council, while the building is owned by the Nelson Pacific Island Afternoon Study Programme Incorporated, which no longer uses the hall.

"Since the day I started here I have been fighting to get access to that building," said centre manager Judy Robinson.

"It's perfect," said community development facilitator Jo Lavington. She said it provided a good space for the centre and the community to use.

The fence will be the first thing to go when the centre takes over the building and it will be used to provide more services.

"We hope to have a health centre in there so people can have health services they are not accessing at the moment like children who are not up to date with their immunisations," as well as health services for the elderly in Tahunanui including health education, said Robinson.

"We have a whole lot of elderly in this area and they are finding it increasingly hard to get to doctors, to get to health professionals, and get help, really," she said.

The centre will work in with the local medical centre to link up these services.

The building will also offer a meeting place outside the child-focused space of the centre's kindergarten and the street front position would also create a more welcoming vibe to those who wanted to use the drop-in service.

"You can imagine it is pretty hard to come in and ask for help," said Robinson, pointing to the two auto-closing gates into the main centre.

The centre would always be open to different Pacific communities who had used the building.

"It's just not being used because the bulk of the Pacific Island people are now in Victory area; that's the reason, so there is no need for it here," said Robinson, but the community centre had worked with the group to sort out the new arrangement.

There was no time frame on when they hoped to have the building open, but Robinson and Lavington expected the building would need some work to bring it up to scratch.

"It has sat empty doing nothing for a long time so everything needs attention," said Robinson.

The women worked with Deputy Mayor Paul Matheson who was "wonderful" and got the ball rolling for them.

Matheson said it was a win-win situation for all those involved with financial pressure on the Nelson Pacific Island Afternoon Study Programme Incorporated being alleviated through renting the building while it also supported the work of the community centre.

The building will most likely be rented by the council at a market rate of $9400 a year and then subleased to the community centre at community assistance policy rental rates with the council hoping to eventually buy the building from the education group.

The rent had not been budgeted for, but the council said it could be covered by savings made in other areas.

The Nelson Mail