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The one stop shop for free fun in Ōtara

Published: 16 November 2018
Libraries staff Mack Leala and Ian Toki

This month, OurAuckland is meeting some of the people who work 'behind the scenes' to make Tāmaki Makaurau a great place to live.

Proving expensive isn’t always better, Ōtara Town Centre facilities have rallied together to provide valuable school holiday activities that are fun, free and for the whole whānau.

October marked the eighth school holiday programme run across the council facilities, and libraries manager Ian Toki says the mana is increasing every time.

The facility leaders behind the initiative are known as the Serving Ōtara Community Members group. They know that for many families in the area it’s hard to find time and money to come to the town centre for a short swimming lesson or session at the library.

Families now come to the town centre to enjoy a full day of activities from Fresh Gallery, Ōtara Library, Ōtara Pool and Leisure Centre, Ōtara Music and Arts Centre (OMAC) and Te Puke o Tara.

“We’ve come together so that families can make the most of a whole day together. With our combined efforts, we have something for everyone to enjoy," says Ian Toki.

Mum and dad can go to use the technology at the library while the kids enjoy board games with a focus on literacy learning, or together families might head to Te Puke o Tara for an afternoon of crafts.

“We value face-to-face interactions, and learn through physical activities, games, using our hands, and just having fun.”

All facility staff spend time getting to know the Ōtara community. By designing activities with the feedback they receive, a sense of ownership of the town centre has been given back to the community.

The response from parents is that their children are opening up and making friends. The facility leaders say the council is a great vehicle for their school holiday activities.

People using the facilities know that they pay rates to the council, but this initiative shows them the value of those rates.

“We love helping people realise that the music technology they are playing around with at OMAC, or the Pacific art at Fresh Gallery, is something that the council has provided to them as ratepayers," Mr Toki says.

“They say, this stuff is expensive and cool, and the council is providing this for me.”