'The Jungle’, Ōtara’s newest basketball court, has never seen an empty day since it was opened at the beginning of August. Locals are fitting in court time before school, after school, on weekends and often past sundown.
The project is a wonderful example of how local communities can drive community services and facilities that are meaningful and relevant to them.
While the court was funded and built by Spark, facilitated by Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board and Auckland Council, its biggest success factor has been the positive influence of the local Jungle Steering Group (JSG) throughout the project.
The self-formed JSG group are old-school Ōtara basketballers: now business people, academics, policemen, musicians and artists. They are all giving back to the neighbourhood they credit their achievements to.
Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board Chair Fa'anānā Efeso Collins says it’s not just about funding and building something, that’s only half the job.
“The most important part of any of our projects is bringing the community along for the ride, giving them the driver’s seat and tools so they are able to take ownership of whatever it may be,” says Mr Collins.
“This is exactly the type of community partnership we want to see and we’re proud to have helped bring this together.”
“Spark’s initial investment has really inspired a future vision in the community extending far beyond this court. The JSG is linking all sorts of community programmes and events to the court to strengthen community bonds and provide disengaged youth with mentors, encouragement and something awesome to look forward to.
“With positive community involvement we can make sure these resources are well-used, treasured, help strengthen relationships and hopefully spark further neighbourhood collaboration."