Ngāruawāhia Moko Club manager Paretakaka Jefferies, left, and Ngāruawāhia High School Board of Trustees member Elaine Preston say the Moko Club has uplifted the neighbourhood with the use of the night time lights.
Once upon a time it was a scary thought walking down Ngāruawāhia's George St at night. Now the tides have turned thanks to the Moko Club. Since the early bi-lingual childhood centre opened early last year near Ngāruawāhia High School, it's never felt safer - according to school board member Elaine Preston. It's due to a myriad of reasons but what has helped is the installation of lights at the centre.
With a bright mural along the walls, the colours are also illuminated. "Since the lights came on at Moko Club there has been a drop in vandalism and tagging," Preston said. "Whānau have expressed that their tamariki feel safe walking home after trainings because the street lighting is better...a few years ago you didn't dare get out of your car at night."And it's boosted respect and pride for their neighbourhood, she said."This [property] was an eyesore back in the day, it was just a shed on an overgrown section, to see it being utilised gives a sense of belonging."
Before the centre had been built, a fence was erected and the next day it had been tagged. Back then vandalism was a regular occurrence for the neighbourhood, she said, but there hadn't been any in sight since.
Preston said there had also been an unexpected collaboration between the school and the club. With a number of teenage mothers, the centre has been not only a place they can bring their children to, but was also offering inspiration to enter into an early childhood career.
Ngāruawāhia Moko Club manager Paretakaka Jefferies said it was also about establishing their place in the community. That was particularly important during the building phase.
"It's the good neighbours too, having the good relationship [and] having the community on board as well, you can only get that by having a conversation."Pride in the neighbourhood had helped residents look out for one another as well, she said. "What also makes a difference was we put up a sign saying this was part of the Kīngitanga office."The club is one of two in the North Waikato community, the other being in Huntly West which has been operating since 2011.
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